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Kuwait Elevated to Special 301 “Priority Watch List”

Washington, D.C. - The United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that Kuwait is being moved from the Special 301 Report Watch List to the Priority Watch List.  The Special 301 Report identifies trading partners that do not adequately and effectively protect intellectual property rights. 

In the 2014 Report, published on April 30, USTR maintained Kuwait’s Watch List status and announced that it would launch an Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) later in 2014. The Report stated that if, by the time of the OCR, Kuwait did not (1) introduce to the National Assembly legislation that would result in a copyright law that is consistent with international standards, and (2) resume effective enforcement against copyright and trademark infringement, USTR would move Kuwait to the Priority Watch List. USTR, with the input of the Trade Policy Staff Committee agencies, has determined that Kuwait has not met these benchmarks.

The United States is encouraged by Kuwait’s recent accessions to the Berne and Paris Conventions and by recent reported progress on enforcement against copyright infringement.  However, the U.S. remains concerned about the lack of sustained enforcement action against trademark infringement and the lack of progress in passage of updates to Kuwait’s copyright legislation, which hamper the overall market environment for intellectual property-intensive industries.

The U.S. seeks to actively engage Kuwaiti authorities on these issues in the context of the long-standing cooperation between our countries.

Background

Pursuant to Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (1994), under the Special 301 provisions, USTR must identify those countries that deny adequate and effective protection for intellectual property rights (IPR) or deny fair and equitable market access for persons that rely on intellectual property protection.

USTR has created a "Priority Watch List" and "Watch List" to administer the Special 301 provisions. A trading partner’s placement on the Priority Watch List or Watch List indicates that particular problems exist in that country or economy with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property. Trading partners on the Priority Watch List become the focus of increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas.

For more information on the Special 301 process, please visit www.ustr.gov.