[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 249 (Wednesday, December 28, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 95722-95724]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-31379]


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OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE

[Docket No. USTR-2016-0026]


2017 Special 301 Review: Identification of Countries Under 
Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974; Request for Public Comment and 
Notice of Public Hearing

AGENCY: Office of the United States Trade Representative.

ACTION: Request for comments and notice of public hearing.

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SUMMARY: Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974 (Trade Act) requires the 
United States Trade Representative (Trade Representative) to identify 
countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual 
property rights (IPR) or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. 
persons who rely on intellectual property protection. The provisions of 
Section 182 are commonly referred to as the ``Special 301'' provisions 
of the Trade Act. The Trade Act requires the Trade Representative to 
determine which, if any, of these countries to identify as Priority 
Foreign Countries. The Office of the United States Trade Representative 
(USTR) requests written comments that identify acts, policies, or 
practices that may form the basis of a country's identification as a 
Priority Foreign Country or placement on the Priority Watch List or 
Watch List. USTR also requests notices of intent to appear at the 
public hearing.

DATES: The schedule and deadlines for the 2017 Special 301 review are 
as follows:
    February 9, 2017 at midnight EST: Written comments, notices of 
intent to testify at the Special 301 Public Hearing, and hearing 
statements from the public are due.
    February 23, 2017 at midnight EST: Written comments, notices of 
intent to testify at the Special 301 Public Hearing, and although not 
mandatory, any prepared hearing statements from foreign governments are 
due.
    February 28, 2017: The Special 301 Subcommittee will hold a public 
hearing at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, 1724 F 
Street NW., Rooms 1&2, Washington, DC 20508. If necessary, the hearing 
may continue on the next business day. Please consult the USTR Web site 
for confirmation of the date and location and the schedule of 
witnesses.
    March 3, 2017 at midnight EST: Post-hearing written comments from 
persons who testified at the public hearing are due.
    On or about April 30, 2017: USTR will publish the 2017 Special 301 
Report within 30 days of the publication of the National Trade Estimate 
(NTE) Report.

ADDRESSES: You should submit written comments, notice of intent to 
testify, hearing statements, and post hearing comments, which must be 
in English, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments in 
section II below. For alternatives to on-line submissions, please 
contact USTR at [email protected] before transmitting a comment 
and in advance of the relevant deadline.
    Procedures/Addresses: All written comments, notices of intent to 
testify at

[[Page 95723]]

the public hearing, hearing statements and post-hearing written 
responses must be in English and submitted electronically via 
www.regulations.gov, Docket Number USTR-2016-0026. Please specify 
``2017 Special 301 Review'' in the ``Type Comment'' field.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Peterson, Director for 
Innovation and Intellectual Property, Office of the United States Trade 
Representative, at [email protected].gov. You can find information 
about the Special 301 Review at www.ustr.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    Section 182 of the Trade Act, commonly known as the ``Special 301'' 
provisions, requires the Trade Representative to identify countries 
that deny adequate and effective IPR protections or fair and equitable 
market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property 
protection. The Trade Act requires the Trade Representative to 
determine which, if any, of these countries to identify as Priority 
Foreign Countries. Acts, policies or practices that are the basis of a 
country's identification as a Priority Foreign Country can be subject 
to the procedures set out in sections 301-305 of the Trade Act.
    In addition, USTR has created a ``Priority Watch List'' and ``Watch 
List'' to assist the Administration in pursuing the goals of the 
Special 301 provisions. Placement of a trading partner on the Priority 
Watch List or Watch List indicates that particular problems exist in 
that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement or market 
access for persons that rely on intellectual property protection. 
Trading partners placed on the Priority Watch List are the focus of 
increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas.
    USTR chairs the Special 301 Subcommittee (Subcommittee) of the 
Trade Policy Staff Committee. The Subcommittee reviews information from 
many sources, and consults with and makes recommendations to the Trade 
Representative on issues arising under Special 301. Written submissions 
from the public are a key source of information for the Special 301 
review process. In 2017, USTR again will conduct a public hearing as 
part of the review process as well as offer the opportunity, as 
described below, for hearing participants to provide additional 
information relevant to the review. At the conclusion of the process, 
USTR will publish the results of the review in a ``Special 301'' 
Report.
    USTR requests that interested persons identify through the process 
outlined in this notice those countries whose acts, policies, or 
practices deny adequate and effective protection for intellectual 
property rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. 
persons who rely on intellectual property protection.
    Section 182 also requires the Trade Representative to identify any 
act, policy or practice of Canada that affects cultural industries, was 
adopted or expanded after December 17, 1992, and is actionable under 
Article 2106 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The 
public is invited to submit views relevant to this aspect of the 
review.
    Section 182 requires the Trade Representative to identify all such 
acts, policies, or practices within 30 days of the publication of the 
NTE Report. In accordance with this statutory requirement, USTR will 
publish the annual Special 301 Report on or about April 30, 2017.

II. Public Comments

    To facilitate the review, written comments should be as detailed as 
possible and provide all necessary information for identifying and 
assessing the effect of the acts, policies, and practices. USTR invites 
written comments that provide specific references to laws, regulations, 
policy statements, including innovation policies, executive, 
presidential or other orders, and administrative, court or other 
determinations that should factor in the review. USTR also requests 
that, where relevant, submissions mention particular regions, 
provinces, states, or other subdivisions of a country in which an act, 
policy, or practice is believed to warrant special attention. Finally, 
submissions proposing countries for review should include data, loss 
estimates, and other information regarding the economic impact on the 
United States, U.S. industry and the U.S. workforce caused by the 
denial of adequate and effective intellectual property protection. 
Comments that include quantitative loss claims should be accompanied by 
the methodology used in calculating such estimated losses.

III. Public Hearing

    The Special 301 Subcommittee will hold a public hearing on February 
28, 2017, at the Office of the United State Trade Representative, 1724 
F Street NW., Rooms 1&2, Washington DC 20508, at which interested 
persons, including representatives of foreign governments, may appear 
to provide oral testimony. If necessary, the hearing may continue on 
the next business day. The hearing will be open to the public. Because 
the hearing will take place in Federal facilities, security screening 
will be required. Attendees will need to show photo identification and 
be screened for security purposes. Please consult www.ustr.gov to 
confirm the date and location of the hearing and to obtain copies of 
the hearing schedule. USTR also will post the transcript and recording 
of the hearing on the USTR Web site as soon after the hearing as 
possible.
    Prepared oral testimony before the Special 301 Subcommittee must be 
delivered in person, in English, and will be limited to five minutes. 
Subcommittee member agencies may ask questions following the prepared 
statement. Persons, except representatives of foreign governments, 
wishing to testify at the hearing must submit a ``Notice of Intent to 
Testify'' and ``Hearing Statement'' by the February 9, 2017, deadline 
to www.regulations.gov following the procedures set forth in part IV 
below. The Notice of Intent to Testify must include the name of the 
witness, name of the organization (if applicable), address, telephone 
number, fax number, and email address. A Hearing Statement must 
accompany the Notice of Intent to Testify. There is no requirement 
regarding the length of the Hearing Statement; however, the content of 
the testimony must be relevant to the Special 301 Review.
    All representatives of foreign governments that wish to testify at 
the hearing must submit a ``Notice of Intent to Testify'' by the 
February 23, 2017, deadline to www.regulations.gov following the 
procedures set forth in part IV below. The Notice of Intent to Testify 
must include the name of the witness, name of the organization (if 
applicable), address, telephone number, fax number, and email address. 
Although not mandatory, government witnesses may submit a Hearing 
Statement when filing the Notice of Intent to Testify.

IV. Submission Instructions

    All submissions must be in English and sent electronically via 
www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2016-0026. To submit comments, 
locate the docket (folder) by entering the number USTR-2016-0026 in the 
``Enter Keyword or ID'' window at the www.regulations.gov home page and 
click ``Search.'' The site will provide a search-results page listing 
all documents associated with this docket. Locate the reference to this 
notice by

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selecting ``Notice'' under ``Document Type'' on the left side of the 
search-results page, and click on the link entitled ``Comment Now!.'' 
USTR requests that you provide comments in an attached document, and 
that you name the file according to the following protocol, as 
appropriate: Commenter Name, or Organization_2017 Special 
301_Review_Comment, or Notice of Intent to Testify or Hearing 
Testimony. Please include the following information in the `Type 
Comment'' field: ``2017 Special 301 Review'' and whether the submission 
is a comment, a request to testify at the hearing, or hearing 
testimony. Please submit documents prepared in (or compatible with) 
Microsoft Word (.doc) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) formats. If the 
submission was prepared in a compatible format, please indicate the 
name of the relevant software application in the ``Type Comment'' 
field. For further information on using the www.regulations.gov Web 
site, please select ``How to Use Regulations.gov'' on the bottom of any 
page. Please do not attach separate cover letters to electronic 
submissions; rather, include any information that might appear in a 
cover letter in the comments themselves. Similarly, to the extent 
possible, please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments in 
the same file as the comment itself, rather than submitting them as 
separate files. For any comments submitted electronically that contains 
business confidential information, the file name of the business 
confidential version should begin with the characters ``BC''. Any page 
containing business confidential information must be clearly marked 
``BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL'' on the top of that page and the submission 
should clearly indicate, via brackets, highlighting, or other means, 
the specific information that is business confidential. A filer 
requesting business confidential treatment must certify that the 
information is business confidential and would not customarily be 
released to the public by the submitter. Additionally, the submitter 
should type ``Business Confidential'' in the ``Type Comment'' field.
    Filers of comments containing business confidential information 
also must submit a public version of their comments. The file name of 
the public version should begin with the character ``P''. The ``BC'' 
and ``P'' should be followed by the name of the person or entity 
submitting the comments. Filers submitting comments containing no 
business confidential information should name their file using the name 
of the person or entity submitting the comments. The non-business 
confidential version will be placed in the docket at 
www.regulations.gov and be available for public inspection.
    As noted, USTR strongly urges commenters to submit comments through 
www.regulations.gov. Any alternative arrangements must be made before 
transmitting a comment and in advance of the relevant deadline by 
contacting USTR at [email protected].
    Comments will be placed in the docket and open to public 
inspection, except business confidential information. Comments may be 
viewed on the www.regulations.gov Web site by entering Docket Number 
USTR-2016-0026 in the ``Search'' field on the home page.

Probir Mehta,
Assistant United States Trade Representative for Innovation and 
Intellectual Property Office of the United States Trade Representative.
[FR Doc. 2016-31379 Filed 12-27-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3290-F7-P