US Trade Representative Releases Annual Trade Barriers Report 30/03/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Washington, D.C.—The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) on Wednesday cited rising global piracy and counterfeiting as a top foreign trade barrier to U.S. products and services in 2005. “There is a discouraging upward trend [in piracy and counterfeiting],” a US trade official said in a telephone press briefing on the release of the annual Foreign Trade Barriers report, which offers a map of U.S. trade policy for the coming year. But he added that progress on piracy had been made in some countries. China again tops the list of countries for intellectual property concerns, according to the report. Asked about China and India, the official said, “We remain seriously concerned about intellectual property protection in those countries.” Brazil and Taiwan were also mentioned as problematic. On Brazil, the official said that a decision on whether to withhold Brazil’s trade benefits with the United States under the Generalised System of Preferences is due on 4 April after USTR has had time to “digest” Brazil’s recently released national plan. The plan is expected to address issues of concern to the United States. On 30 June, 2004, the Bush administration announced that it would continue to review Brazil’s eligibility for GSP for a ninety-day period, which concluded on 30 September, in response to a petition filed by the U.S.-based International Intellectual Property Alliance to remove Brazil’s GSP benefits due to its failure to offer adequate protection to copyrighted materials, the report said. The two governments have continued to work on the issue and the deadline was extended to 31 March. The report’s chapter on China cited “epidemic” piracy levels, and specified steps being taken by U.S. and Chinese authorities to change the situation. The official said the current “out-of-cycle” review of China’s adherence with its international obligations on intellectual property protection is “the most comprehensive out-of-cycle review USTR has ever taken.” USTR cautioned that it “will take the appropriate action necessary” when the review is completed, in order “to ensure that China develops and implements an effective system of IPR enforcement,” as required by the World Trade Organisation Agreemennt Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). There is no deadline for completion of the review, and it is premature to speculate on what actions might follow, the official said. Separately, USTR’s “Special 301” report on trading partners’ provision of adequate protection of US intellectual property is due out on 29 April. Speaking broadly on US achievements on intellectual property rights, the official said the United States recently won a WTO case against the European Union on geographical indications (food items that draw their names from geographic regions). He also said that free trade agreements being negotiated by the United States “have the highest level of intellectual property protection in the world.” And he cited India’s passage of a new law on patents. “Advancing the free trade liberalization agenda is a long-term work in progress,” the official said. In a separate development also on Wednesday, the White House requested an extension of “trade promotion authority” under which Congress authorises the president to negotiate free trade agreements and relinquishes the right to modify them. Under the authority, Congress is limited to a yes-or-no vote on trade agreements and implementing legislation but imposed certain conditions such as inclusion in the negotiating process and adherence to WTO development objectives. The current authority, passed in 2002 after an eight-year lapse, applies to trade agreements signed before 1 July, 2005. The administration’s request will extend that deadline to 1 July, 2007 unless either House disapproves by 1 July, 2005. In a report accompanying the request letter, the White House detailed progress made under the authority and argued that it needs a renewal to complete agreements currently under negotiation. Those include: Panama and the Andean nations of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, with Bolivia participating as an observer; Thailand; the nations of the Southern African Customs Union — Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland; as well as Oman and the United Arab Emirates. It also cited efforts to conclude the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "US Trade Representative Releases Annual Trade Barriers Report" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.