ECONOMY

Imitations, illegal imports cost country 31 bln euros

Illegally imported consumer goods, including imitation products, sold in Greece cost the country 31 billion euros in 2009, according to the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA).

Businesses are missing out on 25 billion euros of sales due to the illegal trade activity which is also costing the state some six billion euros in lost tax revenues.

Despite the worsening problem, the government does not appear ready to take decisive steps that will improve the situation.

Sources said that businesses have been appointing private detectives to track down those behind the illegal trade businesses, discovering large sized wholesale businesses running the operations.

?Illegal trade activity has many victims,? said EBEA President Konstantinos Michalos as he announced the launch of initiatives targetting illegal trade.

In a bid to raise consumer awareness, the campaign will run television ads until the end of March while next week there will also be radio messages.

In cooperation with other chambers of commerce, shop owners will also put up posters and leaflets will be handed out to shoppers in the central Athens shopping district.

?Behind them (street sellers) there are wholesalers and large warehouses that hide very large vested interests,? said Michalos, adding that the support of the government is needed to solve the problem.

Data shows that consumer products confiscated by authorities in Greece in 2009 accounts for twenty percent of total illegal goods found in Europe.

The products are mainly imported from China, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Egypt and Hong Kong.