WASHINGTON - The United States Government today announced it is placing prohibitive tariffs on $75 million worth of Ukrainian exports because of the continued failure of the Ukrainian Parliament to enact legislation cracking down on sound recording and optical media piracy. The sanctions, which will require the payment of 100 percent duties on imports of Ukrainian metals, footwear, and other products, will offset U.S. government estimates of the amount of annual damages to the U.S. economy caused by the piracy of optical media (CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, etc.).
"Today's action highlights that the United States will move forcefully to protect its rights when our trading partners do not live up to their commitments," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick. "In the U.S.-Ukraine Joint Action Plan adopted in June 2000, and in a December 2001 letter, the Ukrainian government pledged that by the end of 2001 it would pass adequate legislation to stop the unlicensed production of optical media products. It has not met this deadline, which is why the United States is taking this action today.
"The United States takes seriously the piracy of its intellectual property," said Zoellick. "The World Trade Organization also places a high priority on protecting intellectual property. Given Ukraine's aspirations to enhance its economic relationship with the United States, and eventually join the WTO, it is in its interest to move with dispatch to adopt measures that will help curtail the pirating of intellectual property."
USTR announced the intention to impose sanctions against Ukraine on December 20, 2001, and a formal notice was published in the Federal Register on January 2, 2002.
Ukraine's exports of unauthorized compact discs (CDs) are disrupting markets. For over two years, the United States has been urging Ukraine to take measures to stop this piracy and prevent its recurrence. Despite the commitments Ukraine made as part of the June 2000 U.S.-Ukraine Joint Action Plan to Combat Optical Media Piracy in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Government has failed to end the piracy. The two principal elements of this Joint Action Plan were that Ukraine would immediately use its existing law enforcement authority to stop the piracy, and by November 2000 would establish an optical media licensing regime, which would serve to prevent a subsequent recurrence. In a final effort to achieve compliance, the United States extended this deadline based on promises of parliamentary action. Now that the parliament has failed to act effectively, the United States has no choice but to impose sanctions.
Credible reports indicate that large volumes of optical media products continue to be pirated in Ukraine. In response, Ukraine was designated a priority foreign country under the provisions of Special 301 last March, and lost its Generalized System of Benefits (GSP) beneficiary status in August.
Click here for a full list of the products covered by the increased duties.