China and EU must step up their efforts to stop fake goods from the growing economic power flooding European markets, the EU’s Tax and Customs Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs has said. Speaking in an interview with InfoRadio, Kovacs lamented the fact that 80 percent of fake goods - which he said included not just brandname clothing but life-threatening medicines made from brick dust and other substances - seized by EU customs authorities originate in China.
“The EU has to strictly examine imported goods,” he said, adding the member states should make every effort to kill demand for cheap forged goods. In another Chinese case, the European Union has decided to crack down on imports of rice from China, saying that the Chinese authorities had failed to filter out products containing unauthorised genetically-modified (GM) material. “Despite measures announced by the Chinese authorities in 2007, alerts concerning the presence of the unauthorised GM rice ‘Bt 63’ were reported until late 2007,” the European Commission said in a statement.
“The commission believes it is now appropriate to proceed with the adoption of emergency measures which will impose on an important number of rice products originating from China a compulsory certificate,” the statement said.
“The first step against fake goods is to stop their production, and only China can stop this,” Kovacs said, although he acknowledged that Chinese authorities had introduced stricter laws and handed down heavy sentences in some cases. Kovacs, who just returned from Beijing where he held talks with Chinese authorities on how to improve customs cooperation, also called for EU member states to remain vigilant.
As of April 15, only rice and rice products which feature on a special EU-approved list and which have been certified as GM-free by EU-approved labs will be allowed into the 27- member bloc.
The list covers a huge variety of products, including husked and polished brown and white rice, rice flour, noodles, rice paper, rice starch, and unroasted mueslis, a spokeswoman for EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa.) EU imports of rice-based noodles from China alone total some 30,000 tonnes per year, she said.
The crackdown came after EU member states Britain, France and Germany reported that they had found traces of the Bt 63 rice in products made in or shipped from China in September 2006.
Under EU law, only GM organisms which have passed EU safety checks can be marketed in Europe. Bt 63 rice has not passed such tests. The EU complained to China, which reacted by boosting its export checks and suspending the export licences of the companies concerned.
But EU member states reported further traces of Bt 63 in February 2007 and continued to report more findings throughout the year, despite increased Chinese efforts. “China is responsible for ensuring that Bt 63 does not enter the EU food chain,” the commission statement said.