Piracy plagues Russian trade

Russian piracy tests U.S. trade

WASHINGTON — More than a dozen pro-trade House Democrats urged the Bush administration to consider Russia’s “unacceptable” record on intellectual property protection when deciding whether to normalize trade relations with Russia and endorse its request for entry into the World Trade Organization.

In a letter delivered Tuesday to U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, 15 representatives — including Howard Berman, Ellen Tauscher and Adam Schiff of the California delegation — cited the cautionary experience with China, which won normal trade relations with the U.S. and entry into WTO based on promises to improve dismal IP protection.

“By any measure, by any fair analysis, the commitments that China made … have failed America’s intellectual property community,” the letter stated. “We all have an opportunity to learn from the China agreement and resulting experience and take the steps necessary to guarantee that any trade agreement with Russia is robust and effective.

“At this time, Russia’s record in this area is unacceptable,” the letter continued.

A USTR spokeswoman had not yet seen the letter.

A recent USTR report listed China and Russia as having the highest rates of piracy. Administration officials have said they hope to decide on trade issues with Russian by the end of the year.

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