BANGKOK — Each year, thousands of tourists travel to Thailand and buy counterfeit designer clothing. But Thailand is also emerging as a center of online markets for fake branded goods, according to a recent UN report.
With the rise of e-commerce and parcel delivery, European markets are increasingly importing counterfeit clothes and other goods from Thailand by ordering online, says the report, “Transnational Organized Crime in Southeast Asia: Evolution, Growth and Impact 2019,” released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) last week.
“Counterfeit clothes and fabrics manufactured in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are exported directly to Europe and other global markets … Thailand has been linked specifically to markets in the United Kingdom and Germany in this regard,” the report says.
The growth of e-commerce websites, social media, and parcel delivery via postal and express freight services have made the selling of counterfeit goods much more convenient.
According to data from the European Commission, Thailand is the third largest user of postal and courier services to export fake goods to Europe, behind only China and Singapore.
“These trends strongly indicate the use of internet commerce and may signal that Thai online shops are specifically targeting the UK and German markets, or that distributors operate from these countries,” continues the report.
Counterfeit goods exported from Thailand are not limited to fake luxury apparel, accessories and electronics, but also include food products, alcohol, industrial parts and cosmetics.
“Thailand is also the origin of various counterfeit health products and doping or anabolic substances, food supplements, veterinary medicines, and erectile dysfunction tablets such as ‘Kamagra’ which are purchased on the internet and illicitly exported to Europe, primarily via express or postal freight,” said the report.
Substandard and counterfeit health supplements in Thailand are occasionally blamed for illnesses and even fatalities.