U.S. President Donald Trump has called out China and 36 other countries for their alleged failure to protect United States’ Intellectual Property (IP) rights. For some time, the Trump administration has criticized China for imposing unfair business practices on U.S. companies operating in their country.
Among the allegations was enforcing onerous business agreements that require U.S. companies to provide information on their technology. Most telling was that this was China’s 14th straight year of being in the list.
The United States’ concern on protection of its IP rights was summarized in the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) annual report which ultimately led to the two countries’ threatening each other with tariffs.
In its “Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights”, the USTR called out China for what the office deemed as “coercive technology transfer practices” and “trade secret theft, rampant online piracy, and counterfeit manufacturing.”
As expected, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce did not take kindly to the findings of the USTR’s report:
“The Chinese side opposes this, and urges the U.S. to earnestly fulfil its bilateral commitments, respect the facts, and objectively, impartially, evaluate with positive intentions the efforts made by foreign governments including China in the area of intellectual property rights and the results achieved.”
The Trump administration has designated U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to travel to Beijing with other U.S. government officials to push the Chinese government to implement changes in their trade and intellectual property policies.
The rising concerns of the U.S. on its IP rights have led President Trump to levy up to $150 Billion in tariffs on Chinese exports.
Another major development on the international front was the United States’ decision to include Canada from the lower tier of its watch list to the same priority level as China.
The USTR said Canada has “poor border enforcement” particularly in the shipment of counterfeit goods that pass through its borders to North America.
According to the USTR, pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. pointed out that generic drugs under U.S. patent protection have come in from Canada at very low prices.
Other countries that were included in the priority watch list aside from China and Canada included Colombia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.