The European Union's Commissioner for Customs and Anti-Fraud is in China to discuss how the Chinese authorities and the EU can reduce trafficking in illegal products, particularly those that breach intellectual property rights by infringing on patents, copyrights or trademarks.

Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta will attend the 5th meeting of the Joint Customs Cooperation Committee (JCCC) in Shanghai on Friday. Top of the agenda is enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) and the fight against fraud.

Protecting IPR is of particular concern to IT companies, many of whom are concerned with China's impact on the EU market. Just last month the European Commission launched an investigation into allegations of hardware dumping from China following a complaint by Belgian modem-maker Option.

China is the EU's second-largest supplier of goods, after the US, but leads the field as the main source of counterfeit goods entering the EU. Last year, almost 65 percent of all articles detained by customs on suspicion of violating trademarks, copyrights or patents came from China.

Both sides have worked to combat this problem and in January 2009 agreed to an action plan for closer customs cooperation on IPR enforcement. This action plan will be discussed at the JCCC, with the European Commission keen to extend it until 2012.

The action plan to prevent trade in counterfeited and pirated products covers four key areas: the exchange and analysis of information about seizures, trends and general risks, the creation of a network of ports and airports to target high risk consignments, enhanced cooperation with other enforcement authorities and joint partnerships with business communities in China and the EU.

The EU primarily imports office and telecommunication products, machinery, manufactured goods and textiles (including clothing) from China. In 2009, pirated CDs and DVDs accounted for all of the copyright infringements detected by EU customs, while unrecorded CDs and DVDs accounted for 70 percent of patent infringements.