US Restores Ukraine Benefits After Piracy Crackdown

WASHINGTON, DC -- The United States has removed a second layer of sanctions on Ukraine because of that country's progress in fighting piracy of U.S. music and films, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office said on Monday.

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman

"I commend the government of Ukraine for its sustained efforts to crack down on copyright piracy and urge the government to continue their efforts," U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said in a statement.

Portman said Washington was reinstating Ukraine into the Generalized System of Preferences program, which allows developing countries to export a long list of goods to the United States at low or zero duties.

Concern over high piracy rates prompted the Bush administration to suspend Ukraine from the program in 2001. At that time, Ukraine was the largest producer and exporter of pirated CDs and DVDs in Europe, USTR said.

The United States also imposed 100-percent import duties on $75 million worth of Ukrainian exports in 2002 to punish Kiev for piracy. It removed those sanctions in August after Ukraine approved several amendments to its anti-piracy law.

"Since the legislation passed, Ukraine has been actively inspecting plants licensed to manufacture optical discs, conducting raids against businesses involved in commercial distribution of IPR (intellectual property rights)-infringing products, and imposing fines against infringers," Portman said.

The latest U.S. move restores trade benefits for important Ukrainian exports such as iron and steel articles, electrical and railway products, snow skis, protein products such as casein and certain mineral and metal products, USTR said.

Washington also has been negotiating with Kiev on Ukraine's entry into the World Trade Organization. Although those talks are continuing, Portman said on Friday a deal could be done in time for Congress to vote on it this year.

Source: Reuters