The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has bumped Argentina to priority status in its new 2018 Review of Notorious Markets report, released last week.
The report gave largest mention to La Salada, a sprawling marketplace complex in the Lomas de Zamora district known for the huge range of counterfeit goods on sale there.
The market receives customers from all over Argentina, as well as many people from neighbouring countries, and many of the fair’s wares are sold at prices up to 70 percent cheaper than in stores.
Prior action has been taken to shut down the site In June of 2017, businessman Jorge Castillo – known locally as “the King of La Salada” – was arrested along with 30 others under charges of conspiracy and extortion.
However, according the the USTR’s report, “while Argentina conducted raids and other significant enforcement actions related to counterfeiting or piracy in La Salada, the sale of counterfeit goods has reportedly continued.”
“La Salada remains on the list as it will take sustained enforcement action and stronger legal tools to reverse the long-standing reputation of La Salada as one of the largest black markets for IP-infringing goods,” the report said.
Argentina was also implicated in its connections to Pelispedia.tv, a Spanish-language streaming site “containing more than 50,000 links to more than 8,000 movie and television series titles that allegedly have been illegally reproduced,” according to the report.
In another high-profile takeaway from the report, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group remained on the US government's annual list of "notorious markets."
The Office of the US Trade Representative said Thursday that Alibaba's online marketplace Taobao.com continues to sell "high volumes" of pirated goods, according to companies that say they've been victimized. It also said that Alibaba has "ineffective" procedures for removing counterfeit products.
In a statement, Alibaba said that "we do not agree" with the trade representative's decision. Alibaba noted that even the US report recognised Alibaba's efforts to work with companies to protect intellectual property.
"We will continue to wage this fight against counterfeiters," the company said.
The trade office also added Saudi Arabia to its yearly "priority watchlist" of countries that don't adequately protect intellectual property, citing its failure to shield pharmaceuticals from counterfeit competition and the continued piracy of movies and television shows on the BeoutQ service.
Joining Argentina and Saudi Arabia on the priority list this year are Algeria, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine and Venezuela.
Canada and Colombia this year were removed from the blacklist. Canada agreed last year to upgrade intellectual property protection as part of a renegotiated North America free trade agreement with the United States and Canada. Colombia updated its copyright law and improved intellectual property protection.
China, including its autonomous region Hong Kong, continues to account for the vast majority of seizes of counterfeit goods by US Customs, the trade office noted.
The watchlist and notorious markets blacklist are published annually and are not directly connected to a yearlong trade dispute between the United States and China.
The world's two biggest economies have slapped import taxes on US$360-billion worth of each other's goods. They are fighting over US allegations that China steals trade secrets, coerces US and other foreign firms to hand over sensitive technology and unfairly subsidises its own tech companies in an aggressive push to supplant US technological dominance.
Talks to end the dispute are scheduled to resume next week in Beijing.