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News Article

In Mexico, Eight Out of 10 People Consume Counterfeit Products

By Alessa Flores | Tue, 09/01/2020 - 14:11

According to the report "Piracy: Understanding the Shadow Market in Mexico," prepared by the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico (AMCHAM), it is estimated that eight out of every ten people in Mexico consume counterfeit products, costing almost MX$43 billion (US$1.98 billion) annually to the Mexican economy. Meanwhile, the OECD estimates that counterfeit goods already account for 3.3 percent of world trade and will continue to grow in the coming years. 

AMCHAM revealed that piracy is growing in Mexico for different reasons, one of them is that people seek to buy illegal merchandise because it is cheaper than the original product. It also explains that these products are sold and/or distributed at places without regulation and control from authorities. For this reason, the strategy to fight piracy must be accompanied by consumer education and regulation of markets, flea markets and other similar establishments, explains the chamber.

In July, AMCHAM published the report “Piracy in Mexico: Diagnosis of Supply and Institutional Actions” where the chamber explained that "piracy is a phenomenon that is present in practically all commercial sectors in Mexico and is constantly evolving thanks to technological changes.” Initially, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) found out that medicines, electronic devices, perfumes, sports goods, shoes and clothing were the main counterfeit products in Mexico. Yet, both IMPI and ANCHAM agree that piracy has spread from the sale and distribution of luxury brands to volume sectors, including the pharmaceutical industry. 

Francisco Rivas, Director of the National Citizen Observatory (ONC), informed Expansión that 52 percent of the markets dedicated to piracy are located in Mexico City and Jalisco. Among them are the iconic Tepito neighborhood, Central de Abasto, Plaza de la Tecnología, Plaza Meave, Plaza Centro Teresa and Bazar Pericoapa in Mexico City, while in Jalisco the San Juan de Dios Market, El Santuario, Central de Abasto and Plaza de la Tecnología stand out. Rivas also explained to Expansión that piracy has evolved to such a degree that it is increasingly within the reach of people without them knowing about it. "The market has diversified to such an extent that there are medicines, medical equipment, agricultural products, car parts, toys and even food products that pose a serious risk to health,” said Rivas.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed Mexico's economy, it has unfortunately not stopped counterfeit drug distribution. In early August, COFEPRIS warned about the sale of a counterfeit drug that was used to treat COVID-19 and that was recently revealed not to work against this new virus. The counterfeit medicine was RoActemra® (Tocilizumab) and like this, COFEPRIS assures there are many counterfeit medicines sold in Mexico.

According to the US Trade Representative's (USTR) Office's Special 301 Report, Mexico is one of the US’ trading partners with the most concerns about IP issues. The USTR classifies 33 countries in two lists: Priority Watch List or Watch List. Mexico appears in the latter list, together with countries such as Bolivia, Colombia, Turkey and Peru, which makes it a country subject to monitoring due to the risk of IP becoming a more urgent matter. 

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Alessa Flores Alessa Flores Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst