BANGKOK - Pirated DVDs, fake Swiss watches and imitation designer garments are fast disappearing from Patpong, a red-light strip in the Thai capital popular with tourists, bargain-hunters and others. The clean-up comes ahead of US President George W Bush's two-day visit next week to Thailand as part of his final Asian tour as chief executive.
The police effort highlights simmering US-Thai trade tensions, which have recently come to a head over Bangkok's moves to produce generic versions of US patent-protected pharmaceutical drugs. Washington recently downgraded Thailand onto its "priority watch list" of countries it estimates habitually violate intellectual property rights (IPR). In a seeming retort, pirated Hollywood DVDs have recently mushroomed across the capital city.
In mid-June, a senior Thai Commerce Ministry official visited the US capital in a bid to get the Bush administration to change its mind, though to no avail. "The country's IPR violation statistics have decreased significantly during the past few years and hence Thailand should be upgraded from the watch list," Siripol Yodmuangcharoen, commerce ministry permanent secretary, was quoted saying in the local press in mid-June.
Bush's visit gives Thai authorities another chance to make their pitch, although government officials said that trade issues are not expected to feature prominently on the visit's agenda. "There may be some informal discussion on trade-related issues," said one official.
|Your name: *|
|Your email: *|
|Recepient's email: *|
|Enter code: *|
New York Times