Shipment of fakes in SE Asia

The diversity of transport methods for counterfeit goods in Asia is an increasing headache for IP holders. Once upon a time, all you needed to worry about was catching containers shipped by sea. Customs enforcement involved seaport training and seizures. Now there are many more ways fake goods are shipped such as the following:

  • Some products, such as household detergents or alcohol that are large in volume but low in value are often shipped in containers to be economically viable. Malaysia's Langkawi Island has a reputation for being an alcohol smuggling centre.
  • ¬†Smaller higher value products, such as luxury goods, watches or phones can be posted / couriered or airfreighted. The vast majority of customs seizures around the world these days are couriered and posted, helped by the fact that online orders for small volumes are now so easy in the age of e-commerce.
  • Many of SE Asia's land borders with China, especially Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos have road and river crossings with large numbers of people crossing daily with stocks of counterfeit goods. Last week Thai authorities arrested a Cambodian man crossing the Thai border. In his car were 20 fake bags and 52 pairs of fake adidas shoes which he allegedly planned to deliver to a customer in Bangkok. Vietnam has a porous border with China and many people cross daily without passing through the border gates just walking over the hills, or by boat over the rivers. An entire industry of smuggled and counterfeit goods porters exist for hire.
  • ¬†Often heard also are tale of air crews and others in the transportation industry carrying fake goods with them.

All of this makes the issue of border interception much more complex than it once was. Meanwhile still SE Asia is far behind the rest of the world in terms of its Customs border protection systems, with only Thailand seizing meaningful volumes of products.