China on Priority Watch List for 14th consecutive year
India remains on Priority Watch List of United States Trade Representative (USTR)’s 2018 Special 301 Report, which was released last week.
The Report states that India remains on the Priority Watch List this year for longstanding challenges in its IP framework and lack of sufficient measurable improvements, particularly with respect to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and enforcement, as well as for new issues that have negatively affected US right holders over the past year.
“The ideas and creativity of American entrepreneurs fuel economic growth and employ millions of hardworking Americans. This report sends a clear signal to our trading partners that the protection of Americans’ intellectual property rights is a top priority of the Trump Administration,” said Robert Lighthizer, US Trade Representative.
This Report draws attention to IP-related trade barriers and the steps foreign countries can take to open their markets to IP-intensive goods—steps that help to protect US jobs, create opportunities for job growth, and promote free and fair trade that benefits all Americans.
Significant elements in the 2018 Special 301 Report include the following:
36 countries are on this year’s Priority Watch List or Watch List. Trading partners on the Priority Watch List present the most significant concerns this year regarding inadequate or ineffective IP protection or enforcement or actions that otherwise limit market access for persons relying on IP protection.
USTR identified 12 countries—Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, and Venezuela—on the Priority Watch List. The IP issues in these countries will be the subject of intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.
China is on the Priority Watch List for the 14th consecutive year. Longstanding and new IP concerns merit increased attention, including China’s coercive technology transfer practices, range of impediments to effective IP enforcement, and widespread infringing activity—including trade secret theft, rampant online piracy, and counterfeit manufacturing.
USTR downgrades Canada from the Watch List to the Priority Watch List this year for failing to make progress on overcoming important IP enforcement challenges. Key concerns include poor border enforcement generally and, in particular, lack of customs authority to inspect or detain suspected counterfeit or pirated goods shipped through Canada, concerns about IP protections and procedures related to pharmaceuticals, deficient copyright protection, and inadequate transparency and due process regarding the protection of geographical indications.
USTR downgrades Colombia from the Watch List to the Priority Watch List for its longstanding failure to make meaningful progress in fulfilling obligations under the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, such as obligations to amend its copyright law. USTR is also announcing an Out-of-Cycle Review of Colombia to assess its progress in addressing these and other concerns.
USTR also identified 24 trading partners on the Watch List: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guatemala, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. IP challenges in these countries also merit increased bilateral engagement in 2018-2019.
USTR places Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the Watch List. For Saudi Arabia, there are concerns regarding recent deteriorations in IP protection for pharmaceutical products, in addition to outstanding concerns regarding IP enforcement and the continued use of unlicensed software by the government. For the UAE, the placement on the Watch List is in response to longstanding concerns about the sale and transshipment of counterfeit goods and the establishment of collecting management organizations, as well as recent policy changes that may not provide adequate and effective IP protection for pharma products.
The Special 301 Report is an annual review of the global state of IP protection and enforcement. USTR conducts the Special 301 review annually pursuant to Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.