Mumbai: The United States on Friday named China and Russia as among the worst protectors of intellectual property rights, flooding global trade with counterfeit items such as DVDs, designer bags, medicines and software, although it remarked that notable progress has been made in the recent past to address these problems.
These assertions were made in the annual ''Special 301'' Report released by the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The report prides itself as being ''a critical policy tool for focusing on urgent problems including the growing problem of Internet piracy and the counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and other products that threaten the health and safety of consumers around the world. ''
The United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, commenting on the growing harm wrought by piracy, said, ''Pirates and counterfeiters don't just steal ideas; they steal jobs, and too often they threaten our health and safety. The Administration has been committed to stepping up the fight against IPR (intellectual property right) infringers who seek to profit from American artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs.''
China and Russia has been mentioned as of being of particular concern by the report, which hasn't spared India either. USTR announced that it will once again retain China on the Priority Watch List and continue monitoring China under Section 306 of the 1974 Trade Act, thus maintaining pressure on China to improve its IPR situation.
As for Russia, the report says that although the has made some progress in moving optical disc factories off of government-controlled sites and raiding unlicensed factories, large-scale production and distribution of IP-infringing optical media and Internet piracy remain significant problems that require more enforcement action.
This year, the report places 45 countries on the Watch List. There are nine countries on this year's Priority Watch List: China, Russia, Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela.
Countries on the Priority Watch List do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection, in absolute terms and/or relative to a range of factors such as their level of development. Priority Watch List countries will be the subject of particularly intense engagement through bilateral discussion during the coming year.
36 trading partners are on the lower level Watch List, meriting bilateral attention to address IPR problems. They are Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
The US administration will conduct out-of-cycle reviews for Taiwan and Israel to assess progress on specific IPR issues.
The report also recognizes the contribution of several countries to address American IPR concerns. They include Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and Ukraine, who are being moved to the Watch List (from Priority Watch List), reflecting improvements in each country's IPR regime. Two other trading partners – Belize and Lithuania – have been removed from the Special 301 Report altogether.