The number of counterfeit watches confiscated by Swiss customs officials has plummeted by around 80% since the beginning of the year, according to the Swiss watch industry. However, this is not because fewer dodgy watches are being imported, but because of government customs cutbacks.
“The Federal Customs Administrationexternal link has significantly reduced its activities regarding counterfeit watches as a result of savings made as part of the stabilisation programmeexternal link,” Jean-Daniel Pasche, president of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industryexternal link, told the Swiss News Agency. “There are fewer checks.”
This government programme aims to save up to CHF1 billion ($1 billion) a year through various measures in order to take the strain off the federal budget.
“This development is regrettable and perverse,” Pasche continued, explaining that the watch federation paid a fee for every check and fewer checks therefore meant less revenue for the government.
“This money should go straight to the customs administration, so it can maintain its level of controls,” he said.
Pasche said he was frustrated that the reduction in inspections was undoing years of work by the watch industry to combat counterfeit timepieces.
“Worldwide around a million fake watches are confiscated a year, with most coming from China,” he said.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts