Russian propagandist outlet RT declared last week that the US suspended duty free import of 155 types of Ukrainian products due to the political situation in the country, calling it a “slap in the face of President Petro Poroshenko’s regime”. Hoewever the preferential duties were suspended due to lack of protection of intellectual property rights in Ukraine and Ukraine’s lack of progress in drafting laws about copyright protection. This decision on the part of the US was made last year and has nothing to do with the current political situation in Ukraine. Furthermore, according to the US Generalized System of Preference trade program some 3,500 Ukrainian products are still imported from Ukraine to the US.

Website screenshot
Website screenshot RT

RT interprets this US move as “pressure on the administration of President Poroshenko” and a type of test to see if he “passes the audition” in next year’s Ukrainian presidential elections.

In December 2017 the US administration put Ukraine on notice for “failing to provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, providing 120 days to remedy the situation and improve the legal regime governing royalties.

As the 120 days’ notice expired and the copyright situation in Ukraine remained unchanged, Ukraine’s partial suspension from the Generalized System of Preferences for 155 types of Ukrainian products went into effect in April 26, 2018. In a special 2018 report on intellectual property rights issued by the Office of the US Trade Representative, Ukraine continues to be on the US priority watch list for copyright infringement together with China, Russia, Argentina and eight other countries.

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Economic Development, the suspended goods include food stuffs, woodworking and engineering products and some electrical appliances. The Ministry is in constant dialogue with its US counterparts and says the suspension will be lifted pending Ukraine’s enactment of a law on property rights monitoring that has already passed its first reading in parliament.

Ukraine has long been one of many countries with serious copyright and intellectual property violations problems, says Foreign Ministry adviser Taras Kachka.  The US chose to grant US preferential duties to give it time to rectify the situation. That time has since expired. US embassy deputy spokesman Omar Cardentey confirmed that the preferential duties for Ukraine were suspended because of the country’poor protection of property rights.