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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Fake goods 'finance terrorists'
Ronald Noble
Ronald Noble is surprised governments haven't done more
Profits from the multi-billion dollar trade in counterfeit goods are being used to finance terrorism, the global police body Interpol has warned.

Interpol chief Ronald Noble said there was a "significant link" in many areas between terrorism and counterfeiting.

He was speaking at a meeting hosted by Interpol and the World Customs Organisation, and billed as the first gathering to tackle the trade in fakes.

Mr Noble called for governments to take more action against the trade.

He said the global counterfeiting business affected the safety of people and governments and was connected to organised crime, drug-trafficking and terrorism.

Yet, he added, "no one pressures me as secretary general of Interpol to say what I am doing to fight this problem".

New approach

The conference is being held in Brussels.

It seeks to bring together experts from the public and private sectors to try to devise a better strategy to fight against this huge illegal trade.

Some estimates say fake goods may account for as much as 9% of world trade.

The BBC's Europe correspondent, Chris Morris, says the conference's aim of finding a comprehensive strategy to tackle counterfeiting worldwide is a challenging one.

Mr Noble said Interpol had discovered links between counterfeiting and terrorism in the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.

Hence the need, Interpol says, for a new approach and better co-ordination between governments, the police and the business community.

Public awareness

Our correspondent says that as well as the security threat, there is also the issue of safety.

Counterfeit medicines and baby food are common.

Dozens of babies in China were reported to have died after hundreds were fed fake milk formula.

Fake car parts, especially brake pads, are widely distributed as well and can be a real danger for consumers.

Interpol officials said they hoped publicity for the links between the counterfeit trade and terrorism would deter consumers from buying commonly-faked items such as cheap handbags.

The BBC's Chris Morris
"The size of the problem is growing all the time"

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