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Cablegate: 2007 Special 301 Review:Post Recommendation For

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DE RUEHVN #0143 0530912
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 220912Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0914
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2099
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU PRIORITY 0195
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG PRIORITY 7752
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS VIENTIANE 000143

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLA; EB/TPP/IPE
STATE PASS TO USTR
STATE PASS TO USPTO
STATE FOR USAID
BANGKOK PASS TO USAID FOR SKIP KISSINGER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD EAID KIPR LA
SUBJECT: 2007 SPECIAL 301 REVIEW:POST RECOMMENDATION FOR
LAOS

REF: STATE 7944

1. (SBU) Post recommends that the Lao PDR not be
designated as a country of special concern under Special 301
due to absolutely low levels of piracy, past actions taken by
the IPR authorities, and the elevation of the Science,
Technology and IPR Office to the status of a ministry, which
may enhance cooperation with international IPR stakeholders.

2. (SBU) Optical media piracy is at low but growing levels in
Laos, and there are clothing trademark violations in some
town markets. In 2006 Post convinced the owner of a large
hotel in Vientiane to switch from a pirated CNN signal to a
legitimate one. According to the owner, a respected
businessman here, he originally had a legal signal but
eventually gave it up after not receiving service from CNN's
Bangkok office and having decoder issues following the sale
of CNN to Time Warner. Overall, absolute levels of piracy
remain less for the whole country than the level found in a
given good-sized provincial town in any larger neighboring
country. Post's main IPR objective is to enhance the
capacity of the Office of Science, Technology, and
Environment (STEA), which currently houses a small but
well-informed IPR Office that has been responsive to
complaints by American interests in the past. STEA is tiny,
and so is the Lao economy, but STEA is also one of the few
offices of the GOL that appears interested in doing its job.
Implementation of the IPR-related clauses of the 2005
Bilateral Trade Agreement with the US can act as a further
test of STEA's preparedness. Implementation of many aspects
of the BTA has been sluggish thus far.

3. (SBU) However, Post is not sanguine about STEA's ability
to cope with international pirate interests should they move
to Laos and settle into a corrupt environment here. Post's
main IPR worry is that ramped-up enforcement in neighboring
economies might create incentives for optical media pirates
to move across Laos' porous borders to set up shop in an
environment almost wholly lacking in real rule of law--making
them all but impervious to international enforcement. This
will be a particular danger as north-south and east-west
economic corridors link the Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese
economies through Lao territory over the coming several
years. It therefore seems to us that we should do more to
elicit cooperation and develop the capacity of STEA, and to
enlist the GoL in international enforcement regimes.

4. (SBU) The GOL has repeatedly requested assistance in both
implementing the BTA and in WTO accession, pointing to the
STAR program in neighboring Vietnam as the perfect idea to
copy. A "STAR-lite" program, taking into account Laos,
smaller economy and costing perhaps $1 million a year, would
likely be an excellent investment in the long-term
improvement of Laos, IPR regime. Capacity in the Lao
government is very, very low--put simply, the line ministries
who are responsible have no bench, and can barely field a
team. Post, while willing, is not staffed with the
capability to offer the in-depth legal advice and daily
follow-up required.
HASLACH

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