USA*Engage Urges Repeal of Section 211

Monday, 10 June 2002

"Section 211 is a special interest provision slipped into the Act," said Don Deline, Chairman of USA*Engage, in the letter. "It was not considered in conference, in any committee, or on the floor of either house of Congress. The Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization has ruled that Section 211 violates U.S. obligations under the TRIPs Agreements, and our view is that the simplest and cleanest path to compliance is full repeal of the provision."

The WTO Appellate Body found that Section 211 violates two longstanding principles of international law - national treatment and most-favored-nation treatment - by imposing obstacles on Cuban and certain other foreign intellectual property right holders that do not exist for U.S. and other nationals.

Since the beginning of the 107th Congress, four bills with Section 211 repeal provisions have been introduced, including the Free Trade with Cuba Act (S. 400), sponsored by Senator Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee. In addition, a growing number of members of the House of Representatives have also expressed support for the repeal of Section 211. On May 15, the 40-member bipartisan congressional Cuba Working Group pledged to work for the repeal of Section 211, stating that the law "places American product trademarks at risk, violates our international obligations, and undermines U.S. credibility in defending intellectual property rights. Section 211 has potentially costly consequences for U.S. economic and commercial interests with no meaningful benefit."

"We believe that a narrow 'fix' of Section 211 would fail to protect U.S. trademarks registered in Cuba, abdicate the U.S. role as the world's leading proponent of intellectual property rights, and ignore the widespread and growing support in Congress and the U.S. business sector for the complete repeal of Section 211," said Deline in the letter. "Such a proposal would likely expand the reach of Section 211 to trademark and trade name rights held by U.S. nationals and nationals of other countries throughout the world."

Read Don Deline's letter to Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Finance Committee.

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of over 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad.  For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at www.usaengage.org.

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