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China remains chief concern in latest EU IPR enforcement report
“More than 80% of the seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods come from China or Hong Kong. … India also remains a big concern for the Commission, in particular due to the lack of suitable protection for pharmaceutical products and also because India is one of the biggest producers of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Today’s report also highlights that Indonesia, India, Russia, and Argentina apply unduly restrictive criteria for granting patents, undermining innovation and research, and preventing investment in these economies and that in Brazil the procedures for the granting of patents in the pharmaceutical sector are not in compliance with international standards.”
[European Commission]

UK considering opening borders and abandoning all customs checks after Brexit
“The idea would hinge on the unlikely event of France, Belgium and Ireland — the EU member states with channel crossings to Britain – refusing to impose strict EU law which states third countries must be subject to tariffs and standard checks.”
[Business Insider]

EU still negotiating BIT with China
“Progress in the multi-year negotiation process for the China-EU BIT could pick up this year, given the two sides’ desire to invest in each other’s economies, but potential hurdles are also mounting as some European officials have become wary of Chinese investment in recent months … Since 2012, when talks on the China-EU BIT started, Chinese and EU officials have held a total of 16 rounds of negotiations, with the most recent one being held in mid-December 2017 in Brussels. In a statement following the negotiations on December 20, 2017, the European Commission, the bloc’s governing body, indicated that talks on sustainable development, financial services, and the umbrella clause for investment are still only in the initial stages.”
[Global Times]

New EU import regulations will target bibliophiles
“The  purpose of the changes is to combat the looting and smuggling of antiquities and prevent the financing of terrorism through the illicit trade in cultural goods. While the need for the new regulations is presented almost entirely in relation to the war on terror, the sweeping new rules themselves will be applied comprehensively and include no provisions for exempting goods from areas which are free from armed conflict or terrorist activities.”
[International League of Antiquarian Booksellers]

Conflict minerals regulation not effective until 2021
“The 2016 regulation only requires compulsory reporting by firms in one part of the supply chain – ores – meaning that companies will not have to report on imports of finished products or products that may contain conflict minerals in their supply chain. … Though approved by MEPs and ministers in 2017, the EU regulation has a long phase-in period and does not come into force until 2021. … [EU Trade Minister Cecilia] Malmstrom left the door open to expanding the scope of the regulation to other minerals when the EU executive conducts a review of the bill in 2024.”

EU seeks feedback on “specially designed for military use” by 1 June

EU reports progress in trade negotiations with Mercosur and Indonesia
[European Commission]

Court ruling on termination of AD proceeding on tartaric acid from China
[Court of Justice of the EU]

Middle East

Jordan suspends FTA with Turkey
“Traders said suspending the deal, which Jordan and Turkey signed in 2011, was ‘unfair,’ while industrialists said the move was ‘much needed’ to protect the industrial sector, which contributes about 25 per cent to the gross domestic product.”


Zimbabwe appeals to remove sanctions
[The Herald]