The US is teaming up with Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and Switzerland to launch a major new initiative in the international fight against counterfeiting and piracy.

The main objective of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would be to develop international standards to better combat the trade in counterfeit trademarked and pirated copyright goods.

Provisions would focus on international cooperation, enforcement practices and legal frameworks, including enforcement systems.

Footwear and apparel products represented 36% and 14%, respectively, of all seized counterfeit goods by US Customs in the first half of 2007.

"The prevalence of knock-offs is a serious threat to the apparel and footwear industry's companies, workers and consumers," said Kevin M Burke, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).