New pilot program launched to monitor sea ports.

The European Union and China have revealed plans to introduce "smart and safe" trade lanes on the seas in a bid to counter rampant piracy, including the shipment of illegal CDs and music DVDs.

The two sides agreed to boost vigilance along sea routes carrying goods between the two global trade partners. They are also backing an immediate pilot project among the world's largest ports at Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Britain's Felixstowe and China's Shenzhen.

The new pilot project, which will involve high-tech electronic customs (e-customs) systems, "will serve as a model for other EU countries," EU customs commissioner Laszlo Kovacs said after meeting with his Chinese counterpart Mu Xinsheng in Brussels.

Under the project, which includes security and anti-terrorism measures, both sides will streamline inspection standards and boost searches of cargo. “In these days, we face global challenges like global competition, international terrorism, the infringement of international property rights and counterfeiting,” Kovacs said.

The commissioner denied claims that an increase in customs measures hinders trade, insisting that e-customs would make the process "more effective, quicker and cheaper."

China is a major source of pirate and counterfeit CDs, DVDs, software and other intellectual-property goods often controlled by criminal organizations that are able to produce and ship items on an industrial scale.

European and US firms have long complained about the volume of pirated goods on sale in China. Despite a number of crackdowns by the Chinese government, counterfeit goods are still widely available in the country.

Kovacs pointed out that half of seized counterfeit goods come out of China. But Mu cited burgeoning customs revenues, from duties paid on cross-border trade, are expected to rise to 600 billion yuan ($76 billion) this year from 540 billion yuan ($68 billion) last year, as proof of more effective customs policing.

Mu added that the Chinese authorities were working particularly hard to battle intellectual-property infringement.