Taiwan may escape the 301 curse


In recognition of Taiwan's efforts to address the problem of IP piracy, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has called for an out-of-cycle review of the country's position on the Special 301 Priority Watch List. Taiwan has been on the list since 2001, but there is growing recognition that greater IP protection will ensure Taiwan's competitiveness in the global marketplace, benefiting foreign and domestic companies alike.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) has also voiced support for Taiwan's removal from the list - a significant shift from its previous criticism of the country's approach to IP protection. AmCham's call came after the Legislative Yuan passed revisions to the Copyright Act during a special parliamentary session. The amendments were seen as crucial to remedying shortcomings that arose after the June 2003 passage of the act.

AmCham also cited Taiwan's progress in combating IP piracy and making "meaningful changes" in how intellectual property is treated and protected, including:

  • the establishment of a police anti-counterfeiting unit;

  • the provision of training programmes for the judiciary and lawyers; and

  • heightened awareness of the significance of IP protection within society and government.

The Taiwanese government has expressed optimism that the island may be removed from the list within the next couple of months. It is hoped that such removal would allow for the resumption of talks in relation to a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which were suspended by the United States in 2002.

Marcus Clinch, Winkler Partners, Taipei

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