BETHESDA, Md.The Auto Care Association (ACA) recently submitted comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) urging it to relist China-based Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and its family of e-commerce platforms as notorious markets that facilitate the sale of counterfeit auto parts.
The letter was submitted as part of the USTR's request for comments in identifying for its annual Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets Report any Internet and physical markets based outside the U.S. that engage in copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.
Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba Group was founded April 4, 1999, by Chinese businessman Jack Ma and billed as a competitor to online sales giant Amazon.com.
Bill Hanvey, Bethesda-based ACA's president/CEO, said although Alibaba had been removed from the notorious markets list in recognition of efforts to address counterfeit activities, we remain very concerned with the drastic amount of counterfeit automotive products sold on these sites daily and the difficulty our members are experiencing in obtaining enforcement.
The association submitted comments in response to member complaints regarding the proliferation of online supply chains based in China that allow the online distribution of counterfeit parts. These online B2B and e-commerce sites, according to the ACA, advertise branded counterfeit products for sale at rates that significantly undercut the margins of members' original products.
It said that while the majority of trade with China in our industry occurs without issue, counterfeit auto parts represent a significant danger to the safety and welfare of the general public, and also pose a significant economic threat to the auto care industry.
The ACA noted in the letter that its members view counterfeit auto parts from China as a critical issue facing the auto care industry. As a manufacturing hub and an important source of imports, China is a critical player in our industry's supply chain.
As the industry works to keep American's cars on the road by providing quality replacement parts and accessories, the letter stated, counterfeiting hurts our industry's image and can give the false impression that imported aftermarket parts are not reliable. When counterfeiters sell products using our members' brand names, they steal income from legitimate companies, cause consumers to question the reliability of these brands and threaten consumer safety.
They also threaten the flow of legitimate trade, as counterfeiting cases raise the level of scrutiny on aftermarket products, causing additional burdens and delays.
Its members, the ACA continuedmany of whom have a presence in Chinaare committed to coordinated efforts targeting the individuals responsible for the introduction of counterfeit parts into the global economy.
In recent years, our members have conducted these operations in conjunction with the Chinese Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) and the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB). As a direct result of these raids, we are happy to report that many counterfeit parts have been seized and destroyed.
Unfortunately, the websites selling a significant amount of counterfeit automotive products continue to operate and our members need additional support from the U.S. and Chinese governments to address this issue.
The ACA outlined general principles Alibaba should adopt to address the proliferation of counterfeit products on its various platformswhich include Taobao and Aliexpressand also commended the USTR's efforts to combat piracy and counterfeiting.