The global trade in fake goods, from cosmetics to car parts and motorbikes, is costing the UK economy billions of dollars a year in lost company sales, overpriced products and missing tax revenues.

It was also behind more than 86,000 lost jobs in 2016, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Available at, Trade in Counterfeit Products and the UK Economy updates the results of the 2017 OECD report Fake Goods, Real Losses: Trade in Counterfeit Products and the UK Economy.

It estimates the value of counterfeit and pirated British goods sold worldwide at £16.2 billion in 2016, up from £13.4 billion in 2013 and equivalent to 3.3% of UK manufacturing sales.

UK goods particularly targeted by counterfeiters include perfumes, cosmetics, clothing, footwear, leather goods, telecoms equipment, electronic goods, cars and motorbikes.

In terms of UK imports, the report estimates that fake goods imported to the UK were worth £13.6 billion in 2016, equivalent to 3% of genuine imports, and up from £9.3 billion in 2013.

The most common imported fakes include mobile phones and accessories, clothes, footwear, handbags, and games. This fake trade led to estimated forgone sales by UK businesses of £9.2 billion, or 2.7% of total sales in the wholesale and retail sector.

OECD Public Governance Director Marcos Bonturi said: “These findings clearly show the need for ‎continued vigilance and for the strengthening of measures to counter illicit trade in the UK and abroad. Good governance is an essential element of this equation.”

Countries need to work together if they want to win the fight against illicit trade and against all other illicit activities linked to it”, he continued.

More than half of the counterfeit and pirated goods imported to the UK were bought by people who knew they were buying fakes. Most fake imports to the UK come from China, Hong Kong, Turkey, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Last reviewed 4 December 2019