Summary of Operation STOP III Results at WCO Symposium on Counterfeit Goods in E-commerce

11 June 2024

On 11 June 2024, the World Customs Organization (WCO) held a Symposium at its Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, focusing on “Removing counterfeits from e-commerce”. The event highlighted the outcomes of Operation STOP III, following the release of its comprehensive report.

Operation STOP III, conducted from 4 to 15 December 2023, saw the participation of 111 Customs administrations. The Operation aimed at combating illicit trade in pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical devices, and everyday consumer products that pose risks to health and safety.

The primary objective was to apply best practices, advanced risk management methods and targeting techniques to identify and inspect high-risk consignments in e-commerce. This initiative was supported by the Customs Cooperation Fund of Japan (CCF/Japan).

Results of the operation included the reporting of 894 cases by 48 Customs administrations with 634 cases (71%) specifically related to e-commerce. The Operation resulted in the seizure of 45 million items, including 43.5 million illicit medicines and medical devices, and 1.1 million goods infringing intellectual property rights (IPR).

Operation STOP III was a collaborative effort, involving international partners such as INTERPOL, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). In preparation of the operation, four regional workshops were held online, supported by nineteen right holders and online platform operators. These workshops provided Customs officers with valuable insights into e-commerce related risks.

Pranab Kumar Das, WCO Director for Compliance and Facilitation, commended the successful outcomes of Operation STOP III and emphasized the crucial role of Customs in preventing illicit goods from entering markets while facilitating legitimate trade. He expressed gratitude to WCO Members, CCF Japan, the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs), international partners, and the private sector for their indispensable support.

Sahoko Shiga, Counsellor at the International Cooperation Division, Customs and Tariff Bureau, Ministry of Finance of Japan, underscored the significance of this operation in protecting public health and safety. She praised the excellent results and reaffirmed Japan’s continuous support to such initiatives.

The Symposium aimed at raising awareness among Customs officers and the public about the dangers of counterfeit goods in e-commerce. Panel discussions provided participants with deeper insights from experts representing Customs, right holders, online platform, and international organizations involved in the fight against counterfeiting in e-commerce.

The IPR CENcomm Group secure communication tool facilitated real-time data sharing on seizures among Members during Operation STOP III, ensuring a coordinated and prompt response.

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