BEIJING (AP) - China has promised to pursue product pirates identified by American authorities in a new effort to stamp out its thriving counterfeit industry, the head of the U.S. customs agency said Friday.
China accounted for about 80 percent of the 14,775 shipments of counterfeit goods seized at U.S. ports last year, said W. Ralph Basham, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Under a memorandum of cooperation signed this week, U.S. Customs will provide Chinese authorities with information on the source of seized goods, and Beijing will report back on the status of efforts to catch the counterfeiters, Basham said.
''We've got to start dealing with the source of the problem. We can't expect to rely upon interdiction to be our tool in order to stop these products,'' Basham told reporters.
China is the world's leading source of illegally copied goods, ranging from designer clothing and Hollywood movies to computer software, sports equipment and medications. U.S. officials say pirates cost legitimate producers billions of dollars a year in lost potential sales.
Under foreign pressure, China has increased penalties for piracy and launched repeated crackdowns. But business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Motion Picture Association of America say the scale of piracy is growing faster than enforcement.
Basham met with his Chinese counterpart, Mu Xinsheng, and other officials this week.
Basham said American officials also offered China help in ensuring security for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He said that might include support from a U.S. program in place at several foreign airports to identify travelers who might be barred from the United States.