The global import of counterfeit goods accounts for nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5% of global imports, according to new research, with footwear the most copied item.

Figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the EU's Intellectual Property Office show the value of imported fake goods, from footwear to fruit, reached US$461bn in 2013, compared with total imports in world trade of $17.9bn. And it is US, Italian and French brands that are the hardest hit, with many of the proceeds going to organised crime.

The report, which analysed nearly half a million customs seizures globally between 2011 and 2013, revealed that up to 5% of goods imported into the European Union are fakes. Most originate in middle income or emerging countries, with China the top producer.

"The findings of this new report contradict the image that counterfeiters only hurt big companies and luxury goods manufacturers," said OECD deputy secretary-general Doug Frantz. "They take advantage of our trust in trademarks and brand names to undermine economies and endanger lives."

For US imports in particular, apparel and accessories topped the list of the number of fake goods seized by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in fiscal 2015, recent figures showed, with more than three-quarters of all products coming from China and Hong Kong.

Apparel continues to top US counterfeit seizures list