US Chamber of Commerce Faults Piracy in Latin America

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The US Chamber of Commerce has named 13 countries in Latin America as not doing enough to combat counterfeiting and piracy. Thought to be the second biggest illicit market in the world, the counterfeit goods trade is a major money-maker for organized crime.

In its annual Special 301 report, which identifies countries that do not sufficiently enforce intellectual property laws, the Chamber of Commerce signaled out Latin America for its widespread availability of counterfeit goods. Three countries — Venezuela, Argentina, and Chile — were placed on the report’s Priority Watch List, which names major US trading partners that have significantly failed to combat piracy, counterfeiting, and patent issues.

Another 10 countries — Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, and Paraguay — were classified as less serious offenders, but were still criticized for failing to do more to enforce intellectual property laws.

InSight Crime Analysis

The global market in counterfeit goods has an estimated worth of some $250 billion a year, according to think-tank Global Financial Integrity. It is considered a significant enough public security problem in the region that Interpol recently announced a mass crackdown on the trade across North, Central, and South America, which has resulted in the arrests of some 200 people and the seizure of $30 million worth in products so far.

For the most part, the Chamber of Commerce report criticizes Latin America for not doing enough on the law enforcement side to address the counterfeit trade. Brazil is signaled out as having made significant progress, for seizing some $1 billion worth of pirated and counterfeit goods in 2011, and closing down hundreds of shops that sell such items.

The report notes that intellectual property enforcement agencies in countries like the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Colombia face a lack of resources and poorly trained staff. This is a problem that these countries’ governments are unlikely to prioritize anytime soon, as other law enforcement agencies — particularly those concerned with violent crimes — present more pressing needs for funding and support.

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