The U.S. Trade Representative's office on Wednesday pinned a badge of shame on Ukraine for failing to protect U.S. copyrights, starting a process that could lead to revocation of U.S. trade benefits for the country.
USTR designated Ukraine a "foreign priority country," the worst label in its annual report on how well countries around the world protect U.S. patents, copyrights and other forms of intellectual property rights.
The trade office previously designated Ukraine a foreign priority country in 2001 and repeated that designation through 2005. During that period, Ukraine was suspended from the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which waives imports duties on thousands of goods from developing countries.
"We can't prejudge what would happen this time, but GSP revocation is certainly one of the possible actions," a senior USTR official said in a briefing before the report.
Ukraine earned its opprobrium this year "by effectively going backwards on IPR (intellectual property rights) protection and enforcement and market access" barriers, he said.
The two countries developed an action plan in 2010 to address U.S. concerns, including the use of illegal software and piracy over the Internet in Ukraine.
"Instead of making progress, all of those problems grew worse over the past year," leading to the decision to revert to the "priority foreign country" label, the official said.