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Trump border chief: Counterfeit goods flooding into US pose national security threat

Angelica Stabile

Smuggling counterfeit goods into the U.S. is reportedly a much larger operation than perceived.

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo that the 28,000 counterfeit goods seized by the CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last year doesn’t even come close to the total amount.

“The almost 28,000 different shipments that we seized that contain counterfeit goods is just a drop in the bucket of what's going out there currently on the e-commerce platform,” Morgan said.

The CBP estimates the market value of these shipments totals $1.5 billion, 90 percent of them coming in from overseas, according to Morgan. He stressed that this kind of “exploitation” not only puts America’s economy at risk but also the health and safety of consumers and national security.

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The goods seized include fashion accessories and counterfeit prescriptions. Morgan said counterfeit drugs are oftentimes laced with dangerous substances like fentanyl, and counterfeit airbags go unrecognized as ineffective “until you need it.”

“If it's being manufactured, it's being counterfeited,” he said.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro weighed in on the controversy, saying counterfeiting is the “purest expression” of intellectual property theft. Navarro said the big problem lies in the number of counterfeits coming in from e-commerce platforms.

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“There’s just a flood of counterfeits coming in,” he said. “A lot of it is enabled by e-commerce platforms like Alibaba, Amazon, JD.com, Shopify … [these] hubs connect you to online sellers in places like China where most of the counterfeits come from and people get ripped off … hurt or even killed.”

Navarro said the Trump administration and CBP have been looking “under the hood” of shipments from China sporadically, seeing an “unbelievably high rate of discrepancies.”

But since phase one of the U.S.-China trade deal has been signed, Navarro said it will be much easier to enforce regulation regarding counterfeit shipments.

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“Ten percent of this stuff coming in from China has something wrong with it,” he said. “So if you're getting a million packages a day from China, that's 100,000 Americans being affected every day by this counterfeit and contraband flood."

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