Trade bloc pushes plan for world's largest black market

BEIJING — In the latest bid to turn the tide in the world’s biggest counterfeiting market, the European Union has urged Chinese retailers and manufacturers to accept a “gentleman’s agreement” that would stop a wave of legal action.

“The idea is to try and have a kind of gentleman’s agreement, understanding and exchange of goodwill on both sides. If it works, OK; if not there will be massive litigation and massive condemnation,” said EU ambassador Serge Abou.

After a case brought by some of the world’s top luxury brands, a Chinese landlord in the capital’s famous Silk Alley market was fined $12,500 for allowing fakes to be allowed to sold on his premises.

Foreign firms see this as a great opportunity to start wide-scale legal action against pirates and their landlords.

Under the EU plan, landlords would agree not to allow the sale of counterfeit foreign brands in their stores.

This could form a blueprint for a nationwide plan, Abou said, adding that a memorandum of understanding could be signed when EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson visits Beijing next week.

The Chinese government has pledged to stop counterfeiting, which happens in all areas of production, from DVDs to baby milk powder, and costs Hollywood and other industries billions of dollars a year.

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