Armando J. Ibarra: Target unlawful Chinese products at the source
Made in China. Cardboard boxes with text made in China and chinese flag on the roller conveyor. 3d illustration

Made in China. Cardboard boxes with text made in China and chine
Florida should stem the flood of illicit products by targeting them at the source.

The Florida legislature is considering a number of bills to combat harmful Chinese products that are being dumped into the Florida market and then resold within our borders to unsuspecting consumers.

The issue of dangerous Chinese vapes has garnered the most public attention, but counterfeit or illicit Chinese products are a constant concern for regulators across America. USPTO estimates that more than 350,000 Americans are seriously injured by counterfeit products every year and more than 75% of those harmful counterfeit products come from China.

Chinese vendors on e-commerce platforms have become a pipeline for these harmful or illicit products, exploiting the de minimis exemption to ship more than $188B of unknown and unvetted products to U.S. consumers, according to a study by the Coalition for a Prosperous America. In fact, Chinese e-commerce platforms are a top source of illicit vaping cartridges and chemicals and 63% of top sellers on Amazon in 2023 were from China.

What is the de minimis exemption? Under U.S. law, products with a nominal value bypass customs and tariffs, entering the U.S. without inspection, reporting, or oversight. The problem? The U.S. government raised the threshold for this exemption to $800, unleashing a tsunami of millions of unknown and unvetted packages entering the U.S. daily.

Moreover, Chinese vendors on e-commerce platforms routinely abuse, deceive, or defraud Florida consumers using other nefarious practices such as fake reviews, sabotaging competitors’ product listings, stealing internal e-commerce data, variation abuse, and other commercial abuses. They also sell U.S. customer data on dark web marketplaces, causing a spike in e-commerce-related fraud.

Once unlawful products are in the state and these Chinese e-commerce vendors have received their payment, law enforcement is at a disadvantage and has to play whack-a-mole which is the current state of play for vapes, illicit goods, and counterfeit products. With no presence or assets held in the U.S., these unscrupulous vendors evade justice and accountability.

The result? Tens of thousands of injured Florida residents and billions of dollars of losses are incurred by Florida consumers annually.

The State of Florida has a public interest in ensuring that products sold to Florida residents are legal and safe. The state also has the authority to protect Florida consumers. Instead of continuing to play whack-a-mole, Florida policymakers need to directly address the activity of Chinese vendors on e-commerce platforms.

Fortunately, Florida legislators understand the China threat and Sen. Alexis Calatayud has proposed legislation to combat these abuses by Chinese e-commerce vendors, holding them accountable and protecting consumers.

SB 1342 titled “Third-Party Sellers From Foreign Countries of Concern” would require e-commerce platforms to hold the funds of vendors located in China in escrow for 120 days after each sale to a Florida resident, empowering the Florida Attorney General to ensure that consumers in our state are protected from losses due to harmful, illicit, or counterfeit products and deterring unscrupulous Chinese vendors from preying on unsuspecting customers.

Whether illicit vapes, counterfeits, or harmful products, Florida should stem the flood of illicit products by targeting them at the source. The urgency of this situation cannot be overstated. Every day that passes without measures to hold Chinese e-commerce vendors accountable, more Floridians are exposed to the risks associated with counterfeit, illicit, or harmful products sold online. It’s not merely a matter of economic loss; it’s a matter of public health and safety. The proposed legislation, SB 1342, represents a significant step forward in protecting consumers and holding those who would exploit our open markets accountable.


Armando J. Ibarra is a government affairs executive and policy adviser for companies, organizations and leaders in the U.S. and Latin America. He serves as a senior adviser to the Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana and as Chair of the Miami Young Republicans.

Guest Author


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704