WASHINGTON – Arguing that a high share of products sold on platforms such Amazon and eBay are counterfeit, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum Wednesday intended to pressure online marketplaces to better police their products.
“This president has decided that it’s time to clean up this Wild West of counterfeiting and trafficking,” said Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. “This can be a pair of running shoes that will fall apart on you. This can be an electronic device that can catch on fire.”
Trump has had a long-running feud with Amazon, one of the world’s largest companies, and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. In tweets and public statements, Trump often refers to the newspaper as the “Amazon Washington Post,” and he has criticized the company’s arrangement with the U.S. Postal Service to ship packages.
Navarro cited a 2018 Government Accountability Office report that found 20 of 47 items it purchased from third-party sellers on consumer websites were counterfeit, or 43 percent. The report studied not only Amazon and eBay, but also websites for Walmart, Sears and the popular computer site Newegg. The report did not break down the share of counterfeit products on each site.
Navarro dismissed a question about whether Trump’s move was related to his longstanding criticism of Bezos.
“I’m just going to stop you there,” he told a reporter. “The answer is zero. Next question.”
Amazon and eBay did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Contributing: David Jackson