January 22, 2018
Thursday, February 13, 2014

US: La Salada is a top counterfeit market

A scene from a 2011 documentary about La Salada.
A scene from a 2011 documentary about La Salada.
A scene from a 2011 documentary about La Salada.
United States Trade Representative includes Argentina in list of main homes of piracy

The United States yesterday included Argentina among the 11 countries whose physical and online pirate and counterfeit markets most affect the North American country’s commerce, emphasizing that the La Salada black market in Buenos Aires province is “frequently described as South America’s largest mall and largest black market.”

“Trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy on a commercial scale cause significant financial losses for rights holders and legitimate businesses, undermine critical US comparative advantages in innovation and creativity to the detriment of American workers, and can pose significant risks to consumer health and safety,” reads the United States Trade Representative’s 2013 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, released yesterday.

With its world-leading entertainment industry, online piracy of media such as films and music remains a major headache for the US government. Such piracy operations were largely conducted reportedly from servers based in countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands and France.

Streaming websites such as and download hubs like are also singled out.

“These markets have been selected for inclusion both because they exemplify concerns about trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy on a global basis and because the scale and popularity of these marketplaces can cause economic harm to US and other intellectual property right holders,” notes the report.

Arguably the most troublesome country for the Obama administration is China, with the country mentioned eighteen times in the report for websites and large-scale physical black markets.

The Associated Press requested comment from the Argentine, Colombian, Ecuadorean, Mexican and Peruvian embassies but did not receive any answers.

La Salada

Located in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, La Salada has been in the spotlight of international media recently, particularly since the European Commission described the market as the biggest illegal market in the world, a reference mentioned in the USTR’s report.

The market is the source of the merchandise — including counterfeit DVDs and sunglasses — regularly seen on peddlers’ makeshift set-ups on the streets of the capital.

“Sellers of 13 counterfeit and pirated products deal openly, several having been interviewed and identified by name in the press,” the Barack Obama administration says, adding that La Salada is “so well-known for the availability of counterfeit and pirated products that dedicated buses bring shoppers from Paraguay and Uruguay to the market.”

The USTR emphasizes that only “small-scale enforcement actions are intermittently carried out by Argentine authorities.”

“Press reports indicate that a companion online marketplace is also planned,” the summary concludes.

Regional cases

The report gives examples of what US authorities consider “positive developments.”

Mexico’s Pulga Río Market was “the focus of targeted law enforcement activity that reduced, and continues to discourage, the availability of counterfeit and pirated merchandise,” the document reads, adding: “In recognition of sustained efforts by Mexican authorities at Pulga Río Market, the market has been removed from the 2013 List.”

Physical markets in nine further countries are listed, including: San Andresitos (Bogotá, Cali and other cities, Colombia), Bahía Market (Guayaquil, Ecuador) and Ciudad del Este (Paraguay).

The latter’s Argentina-Paraguay-Brazil tri-border location has led to “US and international attention as a hub for the distribution of counterfeit and pirated products.”


Spain’s A Pedra Market in Vigo is singled out not due to its size — there are larger counterfeit markets in the Iberian peninsula — but rather because it “operates under the supervision and control of the municipal government.”

“Vigo is a port of call for many cruise lines and A Pedra Market is popular with tourists,” and is “reportedly known for counterfeit clothing and electronic products.”

Herald staff

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