Cracks Down on Counterfeits in a Warning Shot to China

As part of stepped-up enforcement, U.S. agents are screening thousands of additional packages from China in search of goods like fake Louis Vuitton handbags and illicit drugs like fentanyl.

As part of the...

As part of the trade agreement, China said it would work to combat copyright infringement and counterfeiting on e-commerce websites by penalizing local merchants that repeatedly sell counterfeit goods. The United States will place more of the burden on e-commerce portals such as Amazon and by holding them liable for fake or illicit products that are sold by third-party sellers on their websites.

“Under current lax interpretations of the law, e-commerce platforms face virtually no liability for their counterfeit trafficking,” Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said on Friday.

Companies like Amazon have generally been exempt from legal liability for products sold by other merchants using their online platforms. However, last year Amazon acknowledged in its annual report that it could face “civil or criminal liability”[1] for unlawful activities by its sellers, flagging it as a potential risk factor for the company.

The Trump administration is also increasing scrutiny of shipping companies, warehouses and distribution centers that e-commerce businesses use to import products from China. And it is planning to more carefully vet smaller packages, valued at less than $800, which are currently exempt from some customs entry regulations, including tariffs.

Mr. Navarro, one of Mr. Trump’s most hawkish trade advisers, has been skeptical that China will keep the promises it made in the partial trade deal. That agreement, which Mr. Navarro cautioned against entering into, includes purchases of up to $50 billion in farm products over the next two years, greater market access for American financial services firms, and an end to China’s forced technology transfer requirements as part of mergers and joint ventures involving American businesses.


  1. ^ “civil or criminal liability” (

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