The 2013 Special 301 Report has just issued. The US Trade Representative (USTR) at least annually rates the IP performance of US trading partners to assess whether any action is required under s 301 of the Trade Act 1974 (US) to raise such IP performance. The Special 301 Report is a starting point;  identifying those countries which fail to provide an appropriate level of protection and enforcement for US owned IP rights. The worst offending nations are placed on either a Priority Watchlist, a Watchlist or are specially rated as a Priority Foreign Country: as Ukraine is in 2013.

Australia features in the Special 301 report only in a short positive reference to negotiations to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The TPP is a proposed regional trade agreement intended to include “TRIPS plus” IP protection and enforcement standards in member countries.

Strongly emerging economies are a special focus of USTR concern. All BRIC countries appear on one or other of the Watchlists: China, India and Russia (Priority Watchlist) and Brazil (Watchlist) reflecting broader tensions in the global economy. However, even close neighbours to the US can appear on a Watchlist. Canada this year moves from the Priority Watchlist to the Watchlist ”in recognition of significant progress on copyright issues”. However, its regulation of pharmaceutical patents remains of concern to USTR.