Upgrade to US Watch List seen
The government is confident that Washington this year will upgrade Thailand's trade status to its Watch List on intellectual-property compliance, or at least put the country in its "Out-of-Cycle Review" process so that import-duty benefits can be maintained and continued export growth to the US market is assured.
This expectation results from a visit to the US capital by Intellectual Property Department officials early this month, during which they sought to persuade the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to give appropriate recognition to the development of the Kingdom's serious attempts to crack down on intellectual-property violation and raise IP awareness over the past several years.
"Thailand should receive a good sign by being upgraded from the Priority Watch List of those counties with poor awareness of intellectual-property rights. Thailand has seriously striven to suppress violation and will continue to conduct many projects and enact laws to raise awareness and crack down on infringements," Deputy Commerce Minister Natthawut Saikua said |yesterday.
The Intellectual Property Depart-ment reported after the visit that the US had indicated Thailand would this year be treated in one of two ways. The first option is to keep the country on the Priority Watch List, but to include it in its Out-of-Cycle Review process so that the Kingdom will have an opportunity to be upgraded later in the year.
The other option is for the Kingdom to be upgraded to Watch List status, but also to be placed in the Out-of-Cycle Review so that the US can closely monitor Thailand's moves and attempts to continue the crackdown on IP violation. Thailand could then be downgraded to the Priority Watch List if Washington was not satisfied with the outcome during the remainder of the year.
The USTR is scheduled to review the Kingdom's trade status by the end of April. Representatives of the US private sector, including the International Intellectual Property Alliance and US-Asean Business Council, have given out positive signals by suggesting the agency |will upgrade Thailand's trade status this year.
Meanwhile, to raise IP awareness among young Thais, the government is planning to include the subject of intellectual property in the national education programme from primary school through to the undergraduate level.