The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) issued its annual recommendations for the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) “Special 301” report, highlighting an increase in trade losses due to copyright piracy in the Middle East and advising the modification of some countries’ status on both the Watch List and the Priority Watch List.

According to the IIPA’s latest statistics, issued along with the 2008 recommendations, the estimated amount of losses in trade due to copyright piracy for 2006 – 2007 in the region adds up to US $735.8 million, of whichEgypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Jordan make up US $ 325.8. The losses related to the trade in business and entertainment software, records and music, and books, show a small decline compared to last year’s figure which amounted to US $764.5 million; a fact that highlights the region’s improving yet incomplete efforts to battle copyright piracy.

Although the USTR’s decision to include a country – or not – on it’s Watch List and Priority Watch List depends on several factors other than the IIPA’s sole recommendations, the latter’s suggestions provide a glimpse of the listed countries’ efforts, and consequent outcome, in protecting IP rights. This year’s recommendations for the Priority Watch List consist of maintaining Egypt and adding Saudi Arabia, thus emphasizing inadequate levels of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. As for the Watch List, which usually includes countries that do not address IPR problems satisfactorily, the IIPA recommended that Lebanon be moved down from the Priority Watch List while keeping Kuwait in its same status.  Regarding Jordan’s placement in the Special Mention category, it is the IIPA’s way of bringing the USTR’s attention to a specific problem facing the US Industry without recommending that the country be placed on any list.

In highlighting increasing levels of copyright piracy in the region resulting especially in economic loss, the IIPA aims at making IPR issues a priority on the trade and development agendas of countries included on both the Priority Watch List and Watch List.

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