Trump signs memo aimed at stopping counterfeit goods

President Donald Trump issued a presidential memorandum on Wednesday aimed at combating the trafficking of pirated and counterfeit goods.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, said in a call with reporters that the memo will aim to target “trafficking through third-party online marketplaces.”

These marketplaces, he said, include “Alibaba, Amazon and eBay.”

“This is a warning shot across the bow that it is your job to police these matters, and if you won’t clean it up the government will,” Navarro said of the marketplaces.

The goal of the memo, Navarro relayed, is to zero-in on suppliers, intermediaries coordinating the sales of the goods and the marketplaces hosting the goods. In addition, the memo emphasizes the need for more data related to the counterfeit supply chain.

The memo instructs the Department of Homeland Security to compose a report in conjunction with the Commerce Department, the attorney general and other federal agencies with recommendations to combat counterfeit goods in the American marketplace within 210 days.

Navarro also said there’s a “national security component” to the memo because components of defense systems are increasingly being ordered online.

Asked about whether the memo has anything to do with the President’s animus for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Navarro replied, “Zero.”

In February, Amazon announced that it would launch a more proactive approach to eliminating counterfeit merchandise. The company said the program, called “Project Zero,” “empowers brands to help drive counterfeits to zero” by enabling the Amazon’s machine learning to detect fakes and allowing brands to remove counterfeit listings themselves.

Navarro, on the call, also distanced the actions on counterfeit goods from trade talks with China, despite the fact that Alibaba, China’s top online marketplace, was specifically discussed as a target of the memo.

“There’s no relation … to that,” he said.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development announced last month that its new report with the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office found that trade in counterfeit and pirated goods “has risen steadily in the last few years … and now stands at 3.3% of global trade.”