The Office of the United States Trade Representative published the 2017 Special 301 Report on April 28, 2017, reviewing global developments on trade and intellectual property. Only five countries—from over 20—in the Middle East and North Africa region were included on the watch list, signifying that a majority of jurisdictions have already addressed the need for strong protection of intellectual property rights in order to maintain investment and innovation. This is commendable, given the fact that the field of IP is still relatively very young in the MENA region.

The MENA countries on the Special 301 list include Algeria, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey. The aforementioned countries do in fact maintain strong IP laws and policies that are regularly updated—as is the most recent case in Turkey, with the adoption of Law no. 6769. Such positive improvements and initiatives imply that there is a profound commitment to IP, which will undoubtedly increase and foster the global incentives for research and investment in these countries, and the region as a whole.

The Special 301 Report is prepared annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative under Section 301 as amended of the Trade Act of 1974. The report categorizes trade barriers for U.S. companies and products due to the IP law in other countries.

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