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Thailand removed from US Priority Watch List

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has decided to move Thailand from the Special 301 Priority Watch List to the Watch List due to the country’s improving intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement.

Boris Sullivan

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer today announced the conclusion and results of the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) of Thailand, including moving Thailand from the Priority Watch List to the Watch List.

 

A key objective of the Trump Administration’s trade policy is ensuring that U.S. owners of intellectual property (IP) have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their IP around the globe,” said Ambassador Lighthizer.

“The key to promoting innovation is protecting intellectual property. We welcome the corrective actions that Thailand has taken and look forward to continuing to work with Thailand to resolve our remaining IP concerns.”

The Trump Administration has been closely engaging with Thailand on improving IP protection and enforcement as part of the bilateral U.S.-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.  This engagement has yielded results on resolving U.S. IP concerns across a range of issues, including on enforcement, patents and pharmaceuticals, trademarks, and copyright.

MBK fake watches

In the capital Chatuchak Market, MBK Centre, Siam Square, the Sukhumvit area, Patpong area, Panthip Plaza, as well as other marketplaces such as Klong Thom, Baan Mor and Saphan Lek were listed.

For example, Thailand established an interagency National Committee on Intellectual Property Policy and a subcommittee on enforcement against intellectual property infringement, led by the Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister, respectively.

This strong level of interest from the highest levels of the government led to improved coordination among government entities, as well as enhanced and sustained enforcement efforts to combat counterfeit and pirated goods throughout the country.

Thailand also has been taking steps to address backlogs for patent and trademark applications, including significantly increasing the number of examiners and streamlining regulations.

In addition, Thailand joined the Madrid Protocol, making it easier for U.S. companies to apply for trademarks, and took steps to address concerns regarding online piracy affecting the U.S. content industry.

Other results include a commitment from Thailand to improve transparency related to pharmaceutical issues, such as taking stakeholder input into account as it considers amendments to its Drug Act and providing interested stakeholders with regular consultation opportunities with the Thai Food and Drug Administration.

After 10 years in the company of a dozen countries deemed to have the world’s worst IP protection, the country has been upgraded to the Watch List.

Watches displayed at MBK shopping center Bangkok

Some U.S. rights holders report good cooperation with Thai enforcement authorities, including the Royal Thai Police and Royal Thai Customs.

In light of Thailand’s progress, USTR is closing the OCR that was initiated on September 15, 2017, and is moving Thailand from the Special 301 Priority Watch List to the Watch List.  The United States will continue to engage bilaterally with Thailand to address other remaining IP concerns, which are highlighted in the 2017 Special 301 Report.

Upgrading Thailand’s IP watch list status a boost to the country’s image

The upgrading of Thailand’s intellectual property watch list status by the United States Trade Representative will boost the country’s image, trade and investment, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said today (Dec 16).

The removal of Thailand from the priority watch list of intellectual property violation  by the USTR will also contribute to the government’s Thailand 4.0 policy, which focuses on innovation- and technology-driven economy, Mr Sontirat said.

He was responding to the USTR’s announcement on Dec 15 that the agency is removing Thailand from the Special 301 Priority Watch List to the Watch List due to the country’s improving intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement.

The minister said Thailand was among the 11 countries under the US priority watch list on intellectual property violation in the latest round of the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review.

The upgrade of the country’s status from Priority Watch List to Watch List reflected the progress of the country’s efforts in intellectual property protection, he said.

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Trade in Asia-Pacific declines for the first time since 2009

For the first time since the 2009 global economic crisis, the value and volume of trade in the region is declining. But the region is expected to bounce back in 2020 with positive trade growth.

Boris Sullivan

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Bangkok (ESCAP news) – Asia-Pacific economies may see positive trade growth in 2020 but are still facing downside risks from the adverse impacts of the United States – China trade tensions, two new trade briefs by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) released today have revealed.

Trade in the Asia-Pacific region contracted during 2019

For the first time since the 2009 global economic crisis, the value and volume of trade in the region is declining. Total export volume fell by 2.5 per cent, while import volume decreased by 3.5 per cent.

Oil exporting economies such as Islamic Republic of Iran and Indonesia, as well as Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, China registered some of the largest declines in export volume.

Merchandise trade in the region also faced strong headwinds in 2018-2019 caused by the worldwide economic growth slowdown and heightened trade tensions.

These have had an adverse effect on trade, particularly in the case of economies closely integrated with China through Global Value Chains (GVCs). Integration of smaller traders into the global and regional economy through GVCs is becoming more difficult. New import barriers increase the cost of production and reduce the competitiveness of companies participating in regional production networks.

Tariff war-related toll could reach $117 billion in the Asia-Pacific region

ESCAP earlier estimated the tariff war-related toll on gross domestic product (GDP) could reach as much as $400 billion worldwide and $117 billion in the Asia-Pacific region. These projections are materializing and could increase unless current efforts to reduce trade tensions are successful.

“For the Asia-Pacific region, the challenge is to increase trade and deepen economic integration to support sustainable development. Looking ahead to 2020, the agreement reached between China and the United States is welcome and should reduce policy uncertainty,”

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.

She further underscored the importance of the multilateral trading system to underpin future trade growth.

The new guarantees provided by the implementation of the Phase-I deal reached between China and the United States might boost investor and consumer confidence enough for trade in the region to grow by about 1.5 per cent in 2020.

This growth would be felt more in developing economies, which could see a 1.9 per cent and 2.7 per cent growth in exports and imports respectively in 2020. However, country-level forecasts vary widely and uncertainties are high.

In trade in commercial services, the region again outperformed the rest of the world in 2019.

Relatively slower growth is expected in 2020, with transport services, other business services and goods-related services expected to be the most affected sectors.

The mid to long-term prospects for trade in services – in particular ICT and business services – remain bright, supported by technological advances.

Commercial services trade in Asia and the Pacific continue to be dominated by a relatively small number of economies, namely China, Japan, India, Singapore, Republic of Korea and Hong Kong, China – accounting for over 70 per cent of total commercial services trade in the region.

Increasing business opportunities associated with digital technologies may lead to a further concentration of trade opportunities in those economies.

The ESCAP trade briefs serve as a complement to the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2019. They provide in-depth analysis of performance and trends in 2018-2019, and the outlook for 2020 at regional and country levels, with a special emphasis on the impact of escalating trade tensions within and outside the region.

Read the Asia-Pacific Trade in Goods Trends and Outlooks: https://www.unescap.org/resources/trade-goods-outlook-asia-and-pacific-20192020

Read the Asia-Pacific Trade in Services Trends and Outlooks: https://www.unescap.org/resources/trade-commercial-services-outlook-asia-and-pacific-20192020

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