WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday put Pakistan, along with Russia and China on its annual list of trading partners with the worst records of preventing theft of copyrighted material and failure to protect other intellectual property rights (IPR), the US Trade Representative said in a newly released report.
Pakistan, India, Argentina, and Canada were put on the “priority watch list,” along with Algeria, Chile, Indonesia, Israel, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela.
“This year’s Special 301 Report is more significant than ever in light of recent US Government data showing that IP-intensive industries support as many as 40 million American jobs and up to 60 percent of US exports,” US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.
The list is a review of the 77 trading partners of US, and are examined for IPR protection and enforcement . Countries that have the most onerous or egregious acts, policies, or practices and whose acts, policies, or practices have the greatest adverse impact (actual or potential) on the relevant US products are designated as “Priority Foreign Countries.”
Placement of a trading partner on the Priority Watch List or Watch List indicates that particular problems exist in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for persons relying on IPR. Countries placed on the Priority Watch List are the focus of increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas.
The priority watch list carries no threat of sanctions, but hopes to shame governments into cracking down on piracy and counterfeiting and updating their copyright laws.
Explaining why Pakistan has been placed on the list, the report said “widespread counterfeiting and piracy, particularly book and optical disc piracy, continue to present serious concerns for US industry.”
Offering suggestions on improving the situation, it said “Pakistan should provide ex officio authority to its enforcement officials, and should provide for deterrent-level penalties for criminal IPR infringement.” It also urged Pakistan to reform its copyright laws.
Russia, China on Priority watch lists
Canada, among the North American Free Trade Agreement nations along with Mexico and the United States, made the list for the fourth consecutive year, partly for failing to reform their copyright laws.
It was Russia’s 16th straight year on the list, according to a tally kept by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a US business group.
China has been on the priority watch list for eight years and subject to a special monitoring program under Section 306 of US trade law since the late 1990s.
USTR placed Ukraine on the priority watch list for the first time since 2007.
Ukraine has made “minimal progress” in implementing a 2010 action plan to reduce piracy and counterfeiting and “in some cases took steps backward,” USTR said.
Kirk congratulated Malaysia and Spain for being removed from a lower level watch list that includes 27 countries this year.
Those are Belarus, Bolivia Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
Malaysia was dropped from the watch list in recognition of steps it has taken to strengthen protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights and for issuing regulations to protect pharmaceutical test data, USTR said.
Spain was removed from the watch list after adopting regulations to combat piracy over the Internet, USTR said.
USTR said Canada’s place on the priority watch list was “subject to review” if Ottawa enacts long-awaited copyright legislation. The report urged Canada to take stronger action to fight piracy over the Internet and to give its customs officials increased authority to seize counterfeit goods at the border.