Each year, the US Trade Representative releases its “Special 301 report” – identifying countries that fail to provide “adequate and effective” intellectual property rights protection as well as “fair and equitable market access” to US persons relying upon IP rights. The 2016 Report included substantial information regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and commitments “to protect IP and to combat counterfeiting, piracy, and other infringement, including trade secret theft.”
Newly released 2017 Report does not mention the now-scrapped TPP – however President Trump is expected to conduct an aggressive set of bilateral trade negotiations. His nominee for USTR – Robert Lighthizer – is moving through Senate Confirmation and will likely be confirmed within the next few weeks. A holdup for Lighthizer is that he has previously lobbied the U.S. Government on behalf of foreign companies and groups in his role as a lawyer at Skadden. This situation is common for almost any top level American trade negotiator working in the private sector.