The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), the national trade association for the apparel and footwear industry, called on the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to re-list Chinese company Alibaba, and its constituent e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, as a Notorious Market.
The request was made as part of the association’s submission for the USTR’s 2016 Special 301 Out of Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. This year’s submission includes 118 total online and physical marketplaces that promote the sale of counterfeit merchandise. Alibaba was delisted by USTR in 2012.
In its letter, AAFA emphasized Alibaba’s failure to meet the USTR’s recommendations to prevent the sale of counterfeits on its platforms. The letter references research by a Chinese government agency – the State Administration for Industry and Commerce – which showed as much as 67 percent of the goods sold on the company’s Taobao platform were counterfeit. The full submission is available here.
“Despite numerous public statements that the company is taking the counterfeit problem seriously, we have yet to see improvements on Alibaba’s platforms,” said Rick Helfenbein, President and CEO of AAFA. “USTR removed Alibaba from its list several years ago, on the condition that the company meet specific requirements going forward. Those requirements have not been met, and as a result American consumers and our members are paying the price.”
USTR publishes its Notorious Markets list each year to highlight “select online and physical marketplaces that reportedly engage in or facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.” Rebuttal comments are due to USTR on October 21, 2016.