The U.S. economy, as well as public safety, is being threatened by the billions of dollars in counterfeit products that are being exported and sold on e-commerce sites like Amazon and Alibaba, but a crackdown is coming, Peter Navarro, the director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said Friday.
"We're coming hard," Navarro told Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight." "They're either going to play ball and fix this themselves or we're going to do it for them. But either way, the American public is being harmed by this."
President Donald Trump is "really adamant" that selling counterfeit goods will stop, "and you know when the president is adamant, it's going to stop," said Navarro.
He told Carlson that under an operation, "Mega Flex," Chinese exports are being investigated, and "the results are startling."
The investigation into counterfeit items, which has resulted in a Department of Homeland Security report that in part accuses e-commerce sites of facilitating counterfeit sales, has determined that more than 10 percent of the million packages that come in from China contain contraband items, and about half of those are counterfeit items, ranging anywhere from handbags to fake prescription drugs.
"You have controlled substances like fentanyl," said Navarro. "You have weird things like gun silencers, fake driver's licenses. This is an epidemic of counterfeits."
The DHS report also contains a plan to crack down on Amazon and other e-commerce sites with penalties and fines if they don't quit allowing the items to be sold.
The investigation goes back to June 2016, when President Donald Trump promised during his campaign to crack down on Chinese intellectual property theft.
"Counterfeiting is really the purest expression of that," Navarro said.
His comments come as a dispute rages between Navarro and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. According to The Washington Post, Navarro is accusing Bezos of backing out of a meeting with him to discuss counterfeit sales. Amazon now says that it will send company executives, not Bezos, to meet with Navarro.
"Just last week, in the Oval Office, the President signed an executive order which will allow us to progressively control the flow of this stuff from things like China Post from China," said Navarro. "2020 is the year we've got to stop this because this is hurting Americans."
There have been reports of dangerous items, including exploding batteries and unsafe car seats, along with spoiled food items, he said.
"The problem in the system is that all the burden falls on the government to inspect and the intellectual property rights holders to basically find this stuff on Amazon and report it," said Navarro. "Amazon, unlike bricks and mortar retailers gets to skate scot-free because the laws there that are constructed, don't put much liability on them. That's what we're trying to change with this."
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