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Trade representative: Thailand showing improvements on counterfeiting, piracy

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Trade representative: Thailand showing improvements on counterfeiting, piracy

The U.S. Trade Representative's Office downgraded Thailand to its Watch List from its Priority Watch List after finding in a special trade review that the Asian nation showed recent improvements in counterfeiting and piracy enforcement.

The USTR office opened the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Thailand on Sept. 15 after finding that the Asian nation had made improvements to intellectual property protection and enforcement.

The three-month review found that Thailand had shown willingness to correct backlogs for patent and trademark applications by "significantly" increasing the number of examiners and by streamlining regulations, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Dec. 15.

"The key to promoting innovation is protecting intellectual property," Lighthizer said. "We welcome the corrective actions that Thailand has taken and look forward to continuing to work with Thailand to resolve our remaining IP concerns."

The Asian nation also established a national committee on international property policy, which led to improved intra-government coordination and improved enforcement of counterfeit and pirated goods throughout the country.

Thailand's joining of the Madrid Protocol in August also makes it easier for U.S. companies to apply for trademarks, Lighthizer noted.

The Trump administration has made addressing concerns with Thai enforcement, patents, trademarks, and copyright a priority under the bilateral U.S.-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

The USTR kept Thailand on its priority watch list in its April 2017 Special 301 report due to what it said was "widespread" availability of counterfeit goods both online and in physical markets as well as a lack of enforcement measures. Thailand had been on the priority watch list since 2007.

The U.S. will continue to work on a bilateral basis to resolve any remaining issues, Lighthizer noted.

According to the agency, trade between the U.S. and Thailand was $40 billion in 2016.