U.S.: China and Russia offer poor trade protection

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative identified governments around the world that need to take stronger action against piracy and counterfeiting with the release last week of its “Special 301” annual report.

The report placed 11 countries on its priority watch list (PWL) for not providing an adequate level of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. Tops among the offenders were China and Russia. The other nine were: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela.

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said that the annual report is a way to safeguard American intellectual property by targeting trading partners who need improvement.

"As one of the world's leading innovators, the United States places significant emphasis on intellectual property protection and enforcement," he said. "Safeguarding our creations and innovations is a key element of our trade competitiveness. Our review reveals a continuing need for improvements, particularly with the implementation of effective protection and enforcement against piracy and counterfeiting."

Representatives at the Business Software Alliance (BSA) lauded Portman's choices in this year's Special 301 report. Of particular concern to the BSA are the practices in Russia, which has a software piracy rate of 87 percent and has been on the watch list every year since 1997.

"We urge the U.S. government to use the tools at its disposal to persuade the Russian government to take concrete action to reduce piracy significantly," said Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the BSA.

According to a 2005 BSA-IDC study, Russia could generate 114,000 more IT jobs, create $1.6 billion in extra tax revenues a year and add $27 billion a year to an already growing IT economy by 2009 with the help of piracy cuts.

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