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ECONOMY | 01-05-2020 12:50

US trade office adds Amazon, Argentina, Chile to 'notorious markets' list

US adds five of Amazon’s overseas operations, Chile and Argentina to its list of “notorious markets’’ where pirated goods are sold. E-commerce giant dismissed the move as part of the Trump administration's “personal vendetta'' against it.

Amazon was included on the list of "infamous markets" accused of committing intellectual property violations, according to a report by the US trade authority, which includes Argentina and Chile among the partners with enforcement problems.

Amazon's platforms in Canada, the UK, France, Germany and India were included on the list of online markets under surveillance for alleged intellectual property infringements, according to the report released Wednesday by the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

The report reports complaints from property rights owners about "high-level counterfeiting of goods" in these five markets.

USTR cited complaints from US businesses that consumers can’t easily tell who is selling items on the Amazon platforms and that the e-commerce company’s procedures for removing counterfeit goods “can be lengthy and burdensome.’’

Some expressed concern that in the UK, for example, it is difficult for consumers and legitimate sellers to determine who is selling goods on the platform.

In addition, the US authorities said the process of removing counterfeits from circulation is "long and tedious, even for rights holders who sign up for Amazon's protection programme.

Amazon flatly denied the accusations.

"This is a purely political act and is another example of the administration using the government to perpetrate a personal vendetta against Amazon," the company said in a statement, referring to the poor relations of its founder, Jeff Bezos, with US President Donald Trump.

“We strongly disagree with the characterisation of Amazon in this USTR report," added the Seattle-based company, which said it has taken aggressive steps to combat counterfeiting and to vet sellers. The company said that last year it weeded out 2.5 million potential bad actors before they could start selling.

Trump has clashed repeatedly with Amazon. The company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post newspaper, which has written critical stories about Trump and his business dealings.

Amazon sued the US Defense Department last year after losing a lucrative cloud computing contract to rival Microsoft. Trump has also said he won’t approve a US$10-billion loan to the US Postal Service unless it dramatically increases the rates it charges Amazon and other big shipping companies.

This blacklist also includes portals such as TORRENTZ2, turbobit.net and The Pirate Bay, which the report says is still active.

This list of "infamous markets" also includes several places in Latin America such as La Salada, outside Buenos Aires; Tepito, in Mexico City; Rua 25 de Março, in São Paulo; and Ciudad del Este, in Paraguay.

The Silk Market in Beijing and Els Limits in Gerona, on the border between Spain and France, are also cited as reasons for "concern."

Meanwhile, the USTR singled out Argentina and Chile on a heightened watch list of the 10 trading partners that fail to adequately protect intellectual property. 

The report also noted "growing concern" about the proliferation of counterfeiting on social networks, citing the Chinese platform WeChat.

- TIMES/AFP

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