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Italy calls for anti-counterfeit commissioner

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An Italian minister has called on the European Union to appoint a specialist anti-counterfeit commissioner. Italian deputy economic development minister Sergio D'Antoni told delegates at a conference in Rome that a dedicated official was needed to deal with the growing economic problems caused by counterfeit or faked goods.

"The government proposed the creation of a post of commissioner specially dedicated to the fight against counterfeiting and will try to convince the other EU member states to support this proposal," AFP reports D'Antoni told delegates at an international conference on counterfeiting. "That would help make people aware of the seriousness of this phenomenon."

Counterfeit goods seized at the EU's external borders hit a record high last year. An estimated 86 per cent of all seized counterfeit and pirated goods came from China. The trade of counterfeit goods - anything from counterfeit software and CDs to clothes and cigarettes - is reckoned to be worth €3.5bn ($5.1bn) a year in Italy alone. Worldwide the black economy in faked goods is reckoned to top $200bn a year, two per cent of the world economy.

Dividing up the portfolios between the 27 commissioners of the EU is a complex process with individual countries arguing to get its people assigned to higher-profile briefs and arguments about the remit of each role. The issue of counterfeiting falls under the remit of Hungarian politician Laszlo Kovacs, EU commissioner in charge of taxation and customs. The current term of the commission ends in 2009. ®

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