South Korea must act quickly to protect foreign patents, trademarks and copyrights if it wants to avoid being cited for unfair trade practices, says a senior U.S. trade official.
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier, speaking to reporters after a week of meetings between U.S. and South Korean officials, said Seoul's enforcement of intellectual property rights laws was woefully inadequate.
Washington in May put South Korea on a "priority watch list" along with Brazil, India, Mexico, China, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Thailand.
Allgeier said South Korea and Taiwan were at the top of the watch list, but he praised a task force set up in Seoul last December to crack down on violators.
Fake consumer goods such as luggage and watches are widely available in South Korea, where stores also sell illegal reprints of foreign books and copies of videos. Allgeier estimated U.S. manufacturers are losing $135 million a year in South Korea alone.