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Alibaba is better at fighting fakes than Amazon is, says CEO of Swatch

Weizhen Tan
Goldman Sachs tells its clients to buy high-growth companies.

Alibaba is "fighting actively" against fakes, but that isn't something Amazon is doing well, according to Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek.

Commenting on whether Amazon is delivering added value for consumers, Hayek conceded that "in a way, yes, they deliver a product." But Chinese companies like Alibaba are doing better, he told CNBC's Geoff Cutmore.

"If I look what Alibaba is doing and all these they are trying to make a service to the consumer and to earn money. And they are fighting actively against fakes. This Amazon is not doing," he said.

"They refuse to enter into discussion because they have, I think, 10,000 of lawyers that say, 'Please, we at Amazon, we should not enter into anything that should force us to fight against fakes.' The Chinese are doing it. They fight against it," the CEO said.

CNBC reported in 2016 that Amazon had been facing a counterfeiting problem following the e-commerce giant's effort to openly court Chinese manufacturers. Critics said Amazon hadn't put the necessary checks in place to manage the influx of counterfeits.

CNBC contacted Amazon for comment, but it did not immediately respond. Amazon's anti-counterfeiting policy, as stated on its website, maintains that the "sale of counterfeit products is strictly prohibited" and the "failure to abide by this policy may result in loss of selling privileges, funds being withheld, and destruction of inventory in our possession."

"We stand behind the products sold on our site with our A-to-z Guarantee, and we encourage rights owners who have product authenticity concerns to notify us. We will promptly investigate and take all appropriate actions to protect customers, sellers, and rights holders," the company says on its website.

But some corners of Alibaba's offerings have long been regarded as a haven for counterfeit products. Its Taobao e-commerce platform was blacklisted by the U.S. Trade Representative for a second consecutive time this year for selling suspected fakes. That move drew protests from Alibaba, which said it did not reflect the company's intellectual property protection efforts. China's commerce ministry had responded with doubts over the "objectivity" of the annual U.S. blacklist.

Chinese politics doing 'the right things'

Swatch's watch business has experienced growth everywhere, but what's needed is a middle class that can "really consume," said Hayek.

In that sense, China's political system has also done right, according to the CEO.

"The politics over there have done the right things, they create a middle class. That's what we need, a middle class that can really consume. And that's what's happening and continues."

"There was never a Chinese consumer that disappeared. He was always there," he said.