US drops sanctions threat on Pakistan over piracy
25 January 2006
WASHINGTON - The United States has dropped a threat to cut off trade benefits for Pakistan because of steps that country has made to crack down on the piracy of US music, movies and software, the US Trade Representative’s office said on Tuesday.
The announcement came shortly before President Bush was due to meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
“The United States is pleased with the recent progress Pakistan has demonstrated in fighting optical disk piracy,” US Trade Representative Rob Portman said in a statement.
“Pakistan’s concerted efforts since April 2005, particularly its enforcement actions, have resulted in concrete results, including destruction of pirated optical disks, plant closures, arrests and confiscations of imported disks.”
US copyright industry groups filed a petition in 2001 asking the Bush administration to consider suspending Pakistan from the Generalized System of Preferences program because of rampant piracy. However, the same organizations recommended in November the investigation be terminated.
“The efforts of the Pakistani government under the remarkable leadership of Prime Minister Aziz and the actions of the Federal Investigation Agency to address the rampant copyright piracy that had been ravaging their country have been outstanding,” Neil Turkewitz, executive vice president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said in a statement.
The GSP program allows roughly 140 developing countries to export more than 3,400 products to the United States without paying import duties. Pakistan exported about $94 million worth of goods to the United States under the program in 2004.
Pakistan, which is negotiating a bilateral investment treaty with the United States, has pressed Washington for a number of years to begin free trade talks.
The US move Tuesday eliminates one potential obstacle to beginning those negotiations. It follows a US decision to reinstate Ukraine in the GSP program because of the gains that country has made in reducing piracy.