China and Canada, the United States’ two largest trading partners, remain on the U.S. Trade Representative’s “priority watch list” of a dozen countries that have not taken significant enough steps to protect intellectual property and curb piracy.
The USTR’s annual report, released on Monday by Trade Representative Ron Kirk, also included Russia on the list. Even though it has enacted recent copyright and customs legislation and has made “important progress,” the report said that Russian efforts to crackdown on online piracy were wanting.
The other countries on the “priority watch list” include Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela. Another 29 countries are on a “watch list” for “underlying” problems in copyright protection. No countries were removed from the two categories since the last report in 2010.
China launched a “special campaign” to combat infringement last year, and on a visit to the United States, President Hu Jintao committed to stepping up the country’s efforts. While sites that traffic in online piracy, like VeryCD, quishi.com and 5474.com, have been shuttered, and others like Youku.com and Toudu.com have signed licensing agreements for legal streaming of movies, trade officials said it still remains to be seen how great an impact such steps will have overall. Trade officials also are concerned about China’s “indigenous innovation” policies that restrict access to Chinese markets by U.S. firms.
Canada remained on the list in part because the country last year failed to enact stronger copyright legislation, including provisions to fight Internet piracy. The country also was on the list over concerns over border enforcement.
Trade officials also announced a review of Italy to monitor its progress in fighting piracy.