The Trump administration on Friday added Canada to a priority watch list of countries that it says have failed to enforce intellectual property rights, citing concerns over poor border control and pharmaceutical practices.
The biggest surprise in the Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights was the decision to move Canada from the lower-level “Watch List” to the same priority list as China. USTR cited Canada’s “poor border enforcement,” especially for counterfeit goods shipped through America’s northern neighbour, and concerns about intellectual property protections for pharmaceuticals.
The office’s priority watch list includes countries that the U.S. deems to have failed to protect or enforce intellectual property rights or otherwise denied market access to American creators.
The news release said the countries on the list would be the subject of what it called “intense bilateral engagement” during the coming year.
The report comes as Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has been engaged in heated talks over the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
A Canadian close to those talks has said intellectual property is one of several issues that remain unresolved, along with dispute settlement and the U.S. push for a sunset clause.
The Canadian government unveiled its long-awaited intellectual property strategy on Thursday, after committing $85 million over five years towards the initiative in its most recent budget.