Are you looking for the best places in China to buy loads of fake Gucci, Louis Vitton, Manolo Blahnik, and other high-end fashion goods to bring back and sell in the United States? If so, the U.S. government has you covered.
The United States Trade Representative Office (USTR) released the results of its 2013 “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets” Wednesday, which is meant to name and shame those websites and physical markets that most egregiously offer goods that are rip-offs of American products. The report identifies the top websites that host or link to pirated music and movies, many of which intellectual property thieves can watch while they are still playing in theaters.
"In 2013, several online markets in the 2012 List closed or saw their business models disrupted as a result of enforcement efforts," the report stated.
But while the review is part of an effort to stop international intellectual property theft, it’s also a handy guide to those searching for the best places to buy fake goods around the world.
At the “Garment Wholesale Center,” located in the Guangzhou Railway Station in southeastern China, there are hundreds of shops selling large amounts of counterfeit goods of all kinds, often in wholesale quantities perfect for foreign export, according to the report. If fake watches and handbags are your desire, there are plenty of mobile street vendors selling them openly in the streets just outside the station, often in plain view of the police.
At the nearby Jin Bao Garment Market, vendors give you the option to buy your goods with fake designer labels attached, or if you are worried about getting through customs, take the clothes and labels separately and attach them later.
But if you are not near Guangzhou, don’t fret. You can visit one of the 22 Chinese franchises of Buynow PC Mall, which are located all over China and openly sell pirated movies, games, and computer software of all kinds. The friendly staff will even load your pirated software on your computer for you.
There have been some efforts in China to stem the flow of fake goods. For example, at the Luohu Commercial Center on the border of Hong Kong and Shenzhen, there are lots of signs warning about the theft of intellectual property. But alas, there are still dozens of shops selling counterfeit goods either openly or secretly.
“The display of signs prohibiting the sale of such goods has reportedly not served as an effective deterrent,” the USTR report deadpans.
Chinese vendors have also changed tactics to avoid getting caught. They will show customers an unlabeled counterfeit good as an example in the store, but then when the sale is made, a fully labeled fake product is put in the bag.
The Beijing Silk market for many years had been the best place in China to buy pirated goods (as this author can attest to), but recently the Chinese government has been cracking down there, USTR reports. The Zengcheng International Jeans Market is going strong and probably has jeans from the same factory that Levi’s uses for its commercial products but at much lower prices.
USTR lists more Chinese physical counterfeit markets than any other country. The Chinese government is not doing enough to shut them down, the report stated.
“China is host to a number of physical markets that facilitate the sale of commercial quantities of apparel and footwear not just for consumption in China but for distribution and sale worldwide. These markets are known for the prominent and extensive availability of counterfeit merchandise as well as on demand manufacture and worldwide shipping of counterfeit clothing,” the report stated. “Although several of the markets have adopted policies and legal obligations intended to address the availability of counterfeit merchandise, it does not appear that these policies and obligations are vigorously enforced.”
China is not the only country where fake handbags are easily found. The USTR report also calls out physical piracy-heavy markets in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Paraguay, Spain, Thailand, and Ukraine.
The list released by USTR Wednesday is only a sampling of the notorious markets that the U.S. government has been keeping track of since 2006. USTR has released a report on the highest priority markets causing concern annually since 2011.
In a press release, USTR said that the review and publication of the most notorious counterfeit markets was intended to place pressure on countries hosting these markets to clamp down on piracy and intellectual property theft.
“According to a U.S. Commerce Department study released in 2012, America’s innovative and creative industries support roughly $775 billion in merchandise exports annually and 40 million jobs here at home. The markets we have identified unfairly take from these American workers, diminishing the value and salability of their work and threatening their jobs,” USTR chief Michael Froman said. “And some of the counterfeit goods sold in the identified physical markets, from medicines and personal care products to automotive parts, can even threaten the health and safety of consumers. The marketplaces identified here warrant the immediate attention of our trading partners.”