In an annual report, US trade officials on Monday said China and Russia remain lax in their enforcement of intellectual-property rights.
The “Special 301” report, which is designed to highlight trade-enforcement issues, comes amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington over trade issues. The United States earlier this month took piracy-related complaints about China to the Geneva-based World Trade Organization, asking the global trade body. The move drew an angry response from China, with officials warning that US-China trade relations could suffer.
“The Special 301 report flags many other issues on which we hope to remain constructively engaged with China, building on the recognition of many Chinese officials that their country has its own huge stake in effective [intellectual property rights] protection,” said US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, in a statement.
The report said that while some progress has been made, high levels of copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting remain a source of concern.
Meanwhile, US trade officials are also keeping a close eye on Russia’s enforcement of intellectual-property rights, Schwab’s office said.
A news release said the report highlights worries about large-scale production and distribution of “IP-infringing optical media and minimally-restrained Internet piracy are among the major problems that require more enforcement action.”
“I know that our Russian colleagues see the value of intellectual property to Russia’s economy and are working hard to deliver on their commitments,” Schwab said.
Pressure will be on Moscow to implement improvements in its legal code and law-enforcement efforts. The United States says such improvements are crucial to completing the final multilateral talks regarding Russia’s entrance into the WTO.
Russia will be subject to an “out-of-cycle” review of its practices. Such a review is conducted when USTR decides a country warrants further study before the next Special 301 report is issued.
The Special 301 report praised several countries for improving their intellectual-property enforcement. Brazil was moved from USTR’s “Priority Watch List” to the agency’s “Watch List,” reflecting improved enforcement efforts, the report said. Brazil will be subject to an out-of-cycle review to measure whether its progress is sustainable.
Overall, the Special 301 report put 12 countries, including China and Russia, on its Priority Watch List, which identifies country that the USTR says doesn’t provide adequate intellectual-property rights protection and enforcement.
Thirty countries are on the lower-level Watch List, meriting bilateral attention to underlying intellectual-property rights problems. (Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)