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USTR Ends Review of Pakistan's Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

WASHINGTON – U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman today announced that the United States has closed an ongoing review of an industry-initiated petition seeking termination of Pakistan’s eligibility for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program based on concerns over intellectual property rights.  The GSP program provides duty-free treatment to certain exports to the United States.  In 2004, such duty-free treatment was provided to $94 million of Pakistan’s exports.   The U.S. determined that it was appropriate to end the petition review due to the significant progress Pakistan has recently made in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, especially with regard to stopping production of pirated optical media products (e.g., CDs, DVDs).  

“The United States is pleased with the recent progress Pakistan has demonstrated in fighting optical disk piracy,” said Ambassador Portman.  “Pakistan’s concerted efforts since April 2005, particularly its enforcement actions have resulted in concrete results, including destruction of pirated optical disks, plant closures, arrests, and confiscations of imported disks.  

“In recognition of these positive developments, the United States has closed the review of the GSP petition concerning intellectual property rights protection and enforcement in Pakistan,” Portman added.  “We look forward to working together with Pakistan to ensure that enforcement actions continue and that further steps are taken to strengthen its intellectual property environment.”

Pakistan has engaged in a number of additional actions to improve its intellectual property rights (IPR) regime.  The government announced new regulations to fight IPR theft, and established the “Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan” to coordinate enforcement actions, with notable results.  Pakistan has also initiated the process to accede to World Intellectual Property (WIPO) internet treaties, the World Copyright Treaty, and the World Performance and Phonogram Treaty.

The United States will continue to monitor Pakistan’s efforts to achieve continued IPR protection and enforcement through the section 301 process and ongoing bilateral consultations.

Background:

In 2001, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), an association representing U.S. copyright-based industries, filed a petition requesting review of Pakistan’s GSP eligibility due to IPR concerns.  The IIPA petition highlighted Pakistan’s failure to adequately enforce IPR, specifically its copyright laws.  IIPA cited problems with piracy of optical and audio media, business software, cable television, and books, and requested that Pakistan’s eligibility for preferential duty-free tariff treatment under the GSP program be terminated due to these problems.

In November 2005, the Administration held public hearings regarding the issues raised in the petition.  Public testimony supported terminating the review due to the positive steps taken by Pakistan to protect optical disk IPR in 2005.  IIPA recommended that the country practice review for Pakistan be closed in recognition of improvements in Pakistan’s efforts to protect IPR.

The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world, provides preferential duty-free entry for more than 3400 products from nearly 140 designated beneficiary developing countries and territories. The GSP program was instituted on January 1, 1976.  In 2004, Pakistan exported over $94 million in products to the United States duty-free through the GSP program. 

For additional information pertaining to the GSP program, go to: http://www.ustr.gov/Trade_Development/Preference_Programs/GSP/Section_In...

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