International trade agreements and increased consumer education are imperative in fighting global counterfeiting, according to industry executives affiliated with Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy, an initiative of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Senior-level executives from LVMH Mo??t Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Microsoft Corp., General Electric Co., Vivendi, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer Inc., British American Tobacco, Unilever, Universal Music Group and WBD Foods on Monday met in New York with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and officials from the ICC, World Customs Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization and the International Trademark Association. It was the third meeting of the BASCAP Global Leadership Group since the initiative was launched in 2005.

Schwab met with the BASCAP leaders in a closed session during the morning. The executives urged her to move quickly for passage of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which focuses on intellectual property that will be introduced in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

The BASCAP panel said Schwab pledged to pass ACTA in 2008. Alan Drewsen, executive director of International Trademark Association, said the timeline is aggressive, but necessary. The agreement could deliver substantial improvements in international guidelines and standards as well as give governments instructions for taking action, he said.

“With ACTA, we are aiming to set a new, higher international standard for intellectual property rights enforcement, one that addresses today’s challenges,” Schwab said.

The executives also spoke about the importance of consumer education in fighting fake products, and announced a pledge to focus on both the demand side of the counterfeiting equation and the supply side.

“We need to convince consumers they are always the first victims,” said Marc-Antoine Jamet, secretary general of LVMH.

“The consumer is both an accomplice, but also a victim,” said Michel Danet, secretary general of World Customs Organization through a translator. When consumers purchase music illegally, they know what they are doing, but if they purchase fake consumer goods through a legitimate channel like a supermarket, they are victims, Danet said.