GENEVA — U.S. and European Union officials are slated to announce in Vienna today a joint-action program to combat counterfeiting, including luxury goods, and intellectual property theft worldwide.

The plan calls for closer Customs cooperation and joint U.S.-EU enforcement in third countries, plus intelligence sharing and surveillance responsibilities, and increased collaboration with the private sector.

Initial efforts are expected to focus on working with China, Russia and other emerging markets to help them boost their enforcement efforts.

The plan is to be launched by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and EU Commissioner for Industry Gunter Verheugen, and is expected to be endorsed during the EU-U.S. summit in Vienna on Wednesday.

President Bush and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso are expected to endorse the action program during the EU-U.S. summit, where global trade, and trying to enhance the chances of a breakthrough in the bogged Doha talks, are high on the agenda.

“Our industry won’t be able to win the global race with rock-bottom prices and low quality,” Verheugen said. “The only way forward is innovation, invention and quality.”

According to EU Customs data, the number of counterfeit items — affecting almost every sector of industrial manufacturing — seized at EU borders “increased by more than 1,000 percent between 1998 and 2004,” to 103 million from 10 million.

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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