Various types including confectionery and processed food such as tomato paste were involved due to a suspicion that a trademark may have been infringed.
The action with the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) for the Asia/Pacific region was aimed at combating counterfeiting and piracy.
Participating countries were only asked to report the category of intercepted products and name of the trademark which they may have violated.
Under the direction of the WCO Secretariat and RILO A/P, the 19-day operation saw interception of a large quantity of illicit products, totalling 1,453,429 pieces, 153,099kg and 75 litres across 245 cases.
The largest number of cases (40) involved foodstuff followed by pharmaceutical products (38) and spare parts (22).
In terms of the actual volume, foodstuff (415,358 pieces + 42,718 kg + 68 litres) and pharmaceutical (181,415 pieces + 28 kg) were among the major categories intercepted.
It targeted six product categories: pharmaceutical items, toiletries/cosmetics, foodstuffs, pesticides, machines and vehicles (including spare parts) and games and toys.
The WCO operation, which took place in February, was the second in the region focusing on IPR, health and safety - the first of which was in 2015.
Work two years ago did not have the same duration or participating countries.
However, foodstuff (49,048 kg) was second in terms of the volume of products intercepted.
Intercepted foodstuffs destined for the Maldives
WCO told us that most of the foodstuff was intercepted by Maldives Customs.
“We did not expect foodstuffs to be the largest category of items that were intercepted in terms of the number of cases as well as in actual volume.
“Most of the intercepted foodstuffs were destined for the Maldives, whereas the departure countries varied a lot, and included Malaysia and Thailand among others.
“It should be mentioned that the operation only provides a snapshot of what was being traded during a short period of time. It does not aim at giving a comprehensive picture of the global trade in counterfeit goods in the Asia Pacific region, and data reported may not be representative of the size of the phenomenon.”
The operation benefited from the WCO’s Customs enforcement communication tool (CENcomm) to exchange operational messages and share information provided by right holders.
Participating countries intercepted items and contacted rights holders in accordance with their laws and regulations.
“Some countries cleared the goods after interceptions because of a lack of legal authority and/or failure of rights holders to follow appropriate procedures,” said the WCO.
“We use ‘interception’ to indicate that the customs authorities suspend the goods from release into free circulation; after the interception, customs will contact right holders for further procedures.
“When the proceedings leading to the decision of the merits of the case are conducted and the suspended goods are identified to be counterfeit goods, the goods are ‘seized’ by customs authorities. We considered the number of interceptions, not seizures, as the results of the operation due to the complexity and the length of procedures after interception, which vary from country to country.”