MILAN — Made in Italy: a boon and a doom.
The numerous Italian industries producing top-quality, highly valued products popular across the world are at the same time making the country’s economy vulnerable to the global risks of counterfeiting and piracy.
According to a report released today by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, global trade in fake Italian goods such as luxury handbags, watches, foodstuffs and car parts is taking a bite out of Italy’s economy equivalent to around 1 to 2 percent of its GDP in terms of lost sales.
The study, “Trade in Counterfeit Goods and the Italian Economy: Protecting Italy’s Intellectual Property,” assesses the effects of trade in counterfeit goods on Italian industry, the government and consumers, analyzing figures from 2013.
In particular, the report estimates the total value of counterfeit and pirated Italian goods sold worldwide at more than 35 billion euros for 2013, equivalent to 4.9 percent of global Italian manufacturing sales. This resulted in more than 25 billion euros in lost sales by Italian companies in a year when Italy’s GDP was 1.6 trillion euros.
Weighing also on the impact imports of counterfeit goods have on the Italian economy, the study states fake imports were worth more than 10 billion euros, or 3 percent of imports, in 2013 and resulted in foregone domestic sales by Italian wholesalers and shops of around seven billion euros. Half of the fake items were imported from China, while the rest were sourced from Hong Kong, Greece, Singapore and Turkey, which accounted for 29 percent, 6 percent, 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
The combination of trade in fake Italian products and imports of counterfeit goods resulted in a loss of public revenues in Italy equal to 10 billion euros, or 0.6 percent of Italian GDP. In addition, counterfeiting and piracy led to the loss of at least 87,000 jobs in Italy, equivalent to 2 percent of the country’s full-time equivalent employees.
Product-wise, the highest losses in sales in the Italian wholesale and retail sectors due to counterfeit imports were for high-tech electronic, electrical and optical products, followed by clothing, footwear and leather goods. In terms of market share, the biggest losses were in the watch and jewelry category, where the counterfeit market caused a 7.5 percent loss in sales.
The report also shows that around half of the fake goods in Italy in 2013 were illegally sold to consumers who were actually aware they were buying fake products. In terms of product categories, the share of fakes bought knowingly in Italy ranges from 15 percent from food items to 60 percent for watches and communications devices.