The European Union and the US have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the fight against counterfeit trading, the European Commission said.

One key tactic will be for the US and the EU to recognize each other’s trade partnership programs, which authorize certain traders to receive expedited customs checks.

“Mutual recognition of these programs would reduce the burden on legitimate business by enabling them to receive customized controls and allow the enforcement authorities to concentrate main controls on high risk trade,” said European Tax Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs.

“Bilateral and multilateral actions are the way to tackle this problem. Unilateral actions, such as 100% scanning of containers, are not only likely to be much less effective, but may turn out to be counterproductive.”

The commission said the EU and the US are currently evaluating and comparing their respective trade partnership programs, the Authorized Economic Operator program in the EU and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism in the US.

The declaration comes in the midst of Kovacs’ trip to the Washington D.C., where he has met US Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.

Since a June 2006 transatlantic pledge to crack down on counterfeiting, the EU and the US have worked together to inspect air, sea and mail shipments and to exchange information and training procedures.

The two powers have also joined forces at the World Trade Organization, pushing for tougher rules against counterfeiting. (Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)