January 26, 2006

US, EU look to curb China, Russia piracy

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. and European officials hope to
agree on a number of steps to halt piracy in China, Russia and
other countries around the world in meetings on Thursday and
Friday, a Commerce Department official said.

"We've got to be as global and sophisticated in our
approach as the pirates and the counterfeiters are in their
approach," Chris Israel, the point man for the Bush
administration's anti-piracy efforts, said in an interview.

The two-day meeting stems from a commitment U.S. and EU
leaders made in June to join forces in the fight against
pirated and counterfeit goods, which the World Customs
Organization estimates now accounts for about 7 percent to 9
percent of international trade.

American business losses from counterfeiting and piracy are
put at $200 billion to $250 billion per year.

"There's countries that we all identify as particular areas
of concern -- China, Russia -- and I think that will get a good
deal of discussion. But I think both of our governments go into
this dialogue recognizing this is a global problem and it's got
to be a global solution," Israel said.

The United States hopes to come out of the meeting on
Friday "with really solid commitments and actions," Israel
said. U.S. and EU officials are considering a draft plan that
would increase joint efforts to stop counterfeit and pirated
goods from crossing the border, he said.

EU customs officials report their seizures of counterfeit
goods increased 1,000 percent between 1998 and 2004, while U.S.
Customs has seen a tripling over the last five years.

U.S. and EU official met on Thursday with a broad spectrum
of industry groups to discuss how government and the private
sector could work more effectively together.

The meeting was to include representatives from
manufacturing, consumer goods, clothing, motion picture,
recording, software and the pharmaceutical sector.

"We're trying to touch every single industry that's
impacted by this," Israel said. "There's a lot of resources, a
lot of tools at the disposal of our two governments, but it's
really got to be a partnership with industry."

Governments are increasingly aware of the damage piracy and
counterfeiting can do their economies. But the vast profits
that can be made by the trade in fake goods make stopping it a
"very, very significant" challenge, Israel said.