2015 Special 301 Review: Identification of Countries Under Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974: Request for Public Comment and Announcement of Public Hearing
Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974 (Trade Act) (19 U.S.C. 2242) requires the United States Trade Representative (Trade Representative) 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. The provisions of Section 182 are commonly referred to as the ``Special 301'' provisions of the Trade Act. The Trade Act requires the Trade Representative to determine which, if any, of these countries to identify as Priority Foreign Countries. Acts, policies, or practices that are the basis of a country's identification as a Priority Foreign Country can be subject to the procedures set out in sections 301-305 of the Trade Act. In addition, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has created a ``Priority Watch List'' and ``Watch List'' to assist the Administration in pursuing the goals of the Special 301 provisions. Placement of a trading partner on the Priority Watch List or Watch List indicates that particular problems exist in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for persons that rely on intellectual property protection. Trading partners placed on the Priority Watch List are the focus of increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas. USTR chairs the Special 301 Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (Subcommittee). The Subcommittee reviews information from many sources, and consults with and makes recommendations to the Trade Representative on issues arising under Special 301. Written submissions from interested persons are a key source of information for the Special 301 review process. In 2015, USTR again will conduct a public hearing as part of the review process as well as offer the opportunity, as described below, for hearing participants to provide additional information relevant to the review. At the conclusion of the process, USTR will publish the results of the review in a ``Special 301'' Report. USTR is hereby requesting written submissions from the public concerning foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection. USTR requests that interested parties provide the information described below in the ``Public Comments'' section, and identify whether a particular trading partner should be named as a Priority Foreign Country under Section 182 of the Trade Act or placed on the Priority Watch List or Watch List. Foreign governments that have been identified in previous Special 301 Reports or that are nominated for review in 2015 are considered interested parties, and are invited to respond to this request for public submissions. Interested parties, including foreign governments, wishing to submit information to be considered during the review or testify at the public hearing must adhere to the procedures and deadlines set forth below. Dates/Deadlines: The schedule and deadlines for the 2015 Special 301 review are as follows: Friday, February 6, 2015Deadline for interested parties, except foreign governments, to submit written comments, notice of intent to testify at the Special 301 Public Hearing, and hearing statements. Friday, February 13, 2015Deadline for foreign governments to submit written comments, notice of intent to testify at the Special 301 Public Hearing, and, although not mandatory, any prepared hearing statements. Tuesday, February 24, 2015Public HearingThe Special 301 Subcommittee will hold a Public Hearing for interested parties, including representatives of foreign governments, at the offices of the International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC. No later than Friday, February 20, 2015, USTR will confirm the date and location of the hearing and provide the schedule at www.ustr.gov. Friday, February 27, 2015_Deadline for submitting post-hearing written comments. Interested parties may provide written comments after the hearing. To ensure consideration, comments must be received no later than Friday, February 27, 2015. Please submit additional written comments electronically via www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR- 2014-0025. On or about April 30, 2015USTR will publish the 2015 Special 301 Report within 30 days of the publication of the National Trade Estimate (NTE) Report. Procedures/Addresses: All written comments, notices of intent to testify at the public hearing, hearing statements and post-hearing written responses must be in English and submitted electronically via www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2014-0025. Please specify ``2015 Special 301 Review'' in the ``Type Comment'' field.
Determination of Trade Surplus in Certain Sugar and Syrup Goods and Sugar-Containing Products of Chile, Morocco, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia, and Panama
In accordance with relevant provisions of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is providing notice of its determination of the trade surplus in certain sugar and syrup goods and sugar-containing products of Chile, Morocco, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia, and Panama. As described below, the level of a country's trade surplus in these goods relates to the quantity of sugar and syrup goods and sugar-containing products for which the United States grants preferential tariff treatment under (i) the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement (Chile FTA); (ii) the United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (Morocco FTA); (iii) the Dominican Republic-Central America- United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR); (iv) the United States- Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (Peru TPA); (v) the United States- Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (Colombia TPA), and (vi) the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (Panama TPA).
Request for Comments on Additional Participants in Trade in Services Agreement
On January 15, 2013, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) notified Congress of the Administration's intention to enter into negotiations for a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) with an initial group of 20 trading partners. The January 15 notification states that the group negotiating TISA ``will expand as negotiations progress to include others who share our ambitious goals.'' On November 3, 2014, USTR notified Congress of the Administration's intention to join a consensus reached among the TISA negotiating participants to accept Uruguay into the negotiations. Through this notice, USTR seeks public comments regarding particular priorities with respect to the participation of Uruguay in the negotiations. Comments may be provided in writing.
Request for Comments on Israel's and Turkey's Participation in the Environmental Goods Agreement Negotiations
On March 21, 2014, the United States Trade Representative notified Congress of the Administration's intention to enter into negotiations for a World Trade Organization (WTO) Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) with an initial group of 13 trading partners. The United States Trade Representative has since notified Congress of the Administration's intent to join a consensus among EGA participants to invite the Governments of Israel and Turkey to join the EGA negotiations. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, on behalf of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), is seeking public comment regarding U.S. interests and priorities with respect to this initiative to invite Israel and Turkey to join the EGA negotiations.
Determinations under the African Growth and Opportunity Act
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has determined that Guinea and Madagascar have each adopted effective visa systems and related procedures to prevent unlawful transshipment of textile and apparel articles and the use of counterfeit documents in connection with the shipment of such articles and has implemented and follows, or is making substantial progress toward implementing and following, the customs procedures required by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Therefore, as specified in this notice, imports of eligible products from Guinea and Madagascar qualify for the textile and apparel benefits provided for under AGOA.
Membership of the Performance Review Board (PRB)
The following staff members have been appointed to serve on the Performance Review Board: Performance Review Board (PRB) Chair: Wendy Cutler Member: Barbara Weisel Member: Florizelle Liser Member: Lewis Karesh Member: Sharon Bomer-Lauritsen Executive Secretary: Ronald Nerida