- Officials said such sales have grown rampant through third-party sales on online retailers including Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Alibaba.
- Under the changes, the government will increase oversight of US warehouses and ramp up fines and penalties for violations.
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The Trump administration on Friday rolled out a plan to curb counterfeit imports that officials said have grown rampant through third-party sales on online retailers including Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Alibaba.
Under the changes, the government will increase oversight of US warehouses and ramp up fines and penalties for violations. The measure, which was led by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, stemmed from an April memorandum signed by President Donald Trump.
"We're not going to be able to seize or arrest our way out of this problem," said Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection. "That's why we work to expand our work closely with the trademark industry as well as online marketplaces, carriers, technological firms, as well as logistics providers."
The announcement came on the heels of an interim trade agreement between the Trump administration and China, which includes measures to stem the flow of counterfeit and pirated products into the US. Under the so-called phase-one deal, China is expected to revoke the operating licenses of platforms that don't comply.
"China has also pledged firm action to confront pirated and counterfeit goods, which is a big problem for many of the people in the room the counterfeiting," Trump told lawmakers and business executives at a signing ceremony for the deal on January 15. "We'll make sure that this happens, and we have very, very strong protection."
The Trump administration has said stores like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Alibaba have not done enough to stop counterfeit sales, which have been on the rise in recent years. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office examined dozens of goods that it bought through third-party sellers on popular ecommerce sites. About 43% of the products were counterfeit, the office said in a report .
"Why are counterfeits ubiquitous in third-party online marketplaces? For one, because customs law has not kept up with the surge of e-commerce," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed around the same time. "Alibaba, Amazon and eBay face virtually no liability when they act as middlemen for counterfeiters."
On Friday, Navarro said that the new plan would subject online sellers to the same counterfeiting standards that brick-and-mortar stores face. Navarro was one of the architects of the initiative and has also emerged as one of the most hawkish voices in trade negotiations with China.
"The problem is, for all practical purposes, these e-commerce hubs are basically laundries for counterfeiting," he added.
Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, and Alibaba did not respond to emails requesting comment.
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