US takes Philippines off intellectual property watch list

The Obama administration says that the Philippines has fixed its problems protecting intellectual property enough to take it off of a special watch list on the issue.

As President Obama landed toasted President Benigno Aquino as part of his tour of his multi-day tour of Asia on Monday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative removed the country from a list of countries with a bad record on intellectual property rights.

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“Although significant challenges remain, the commitment of Philippine authorities and the results achieved merit this change in status,” the trade office said in a statement announcing the change. “The United States will continue to engage with the Philippines to address unresolved and future challenges.”

The Philippines had appeared on the watch list or the priority watch list continually since 1994, and was first added in 1989.

Countries on the list, which include nations from India to Russia to Canada, are considered to have a weak record of defending or enforcing intellectual property rights, or close off market access to people relying on intellectual property.  The problem areas can bubble to the surface during bilateral trade talks. 

The Obama administration said that the Philippines had enacted “a series of significant legislative and regulatory reform” to protect intellectual property rights in the country.

Obama’s trip to the region, which also included stops in Malaysia, Korea and Japan, was an attempt by the administration to shore up allies in the region amid the U.S.’s “pivot” to Asia.

In a press conference on Monday, Obama said that the U.S. is “is renewing our leadership in the Asia Pacific...”

“As one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, the Philippines represents new opportunities for the trade and investment that creates jobs in both countries,” he added.