The USTR published a Federal Register Notice announcing its yearly “special review” to identify countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (Section 301). Based on this review, the USTR will determine whether to identify “Priority Foreign Countries” defined under Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974.
Priority Foreign Countries are countries for which the USTR can implement an investigation pursuant to Section 301 to determine whether certain trade measures are appropriate to address a country’s restrictions on trade and intellectual property rights. The most recent investigation under Section 301 occurred in 2017 and 2018 and resulted in the USTR implementing tariffs on approximately $250 billion of imports from China.
The USTR requested that interested parties provide written comments to identify “countries whose acts, policies, or practices deny adequate and effective protection for intellectual property rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection.” The Special 301 provisions also require the Trade Representative to identify any act, policy, or practice of Canada that affects cultural industries, was adopted or expanded after December 17, 1992, and is actionable under Article 2106 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The USTR requested that interested parties file written comments that identify acts, policies, or practices that may form the basis of a country’s identification as a Priority Foreign Country or placement on the Priority Watch List or Watch List by February 7, 2019. USTR also requests that parties file notices of intent to appear at the public hearing by February 21, 2019. The public hearing will be held on February 27, 2019. Parties who testified at the hearing must submit posthearing written comments by March 5, 2019. The USTR indicated that it will publish the 2019 Special 301 Report on or around April 26, 2016.