Tuesday, September 18, 2012

China's southern borders with ASEAN

South East Asia's borders with China present an enforcement challenge for IP holders. Northern Vietnam has long had an overland route for fake goods made in southern China to enter that market. Because so many consumer goods are made in China, most ASEAN countries now find that the vast majority of their counterfeit goods are imported from China these days.

2 recent news articles show the wide geographic extent of the problem for the ASEAN region. The Bangkok Post reported that Thai authorities will work with Chinese Customs to inspect more shipments of goods though Yunnan province into Northern Thailand. Pajchima Tanasanti, director-general of the Thai IP Department, said that China's Customs department has been asked to inspect exports to see if they infringe IPRs.  Chinese customs routinely seizes fakes  on the way to Thailand including fake CDs, garments, leather goods, handbags, and watches. They have asked Thai authorities for details of products commonly imported and been supplied with examples.

Another news report on the newly opening market of Myanmar indicated that there has long been a trade in fake goods over Myanmar's northern borders with China. The Mong La region is run by a drug overlord and is apparently a key route into Myanmar for all kinds of illicit goods. The concern is that counterfeits travel along this route and on into South East Asia and India.

The difference between the effectiveness of border control in Thailand and Myanmar are stark. Thailand has a customs border protection system in place albeit somewhat new, whereas Myanmar has minimal IP enforcement at all. But the flow of fake goods from China is significant into both places. 

IP Komodo is interested to watch both whether Thai and Chinese customs can take joint action. As well as whether Myanmar can put in place legal systems to undertake IP enforcement.

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