The United States plans to review South Africa’s eligibility to participate in its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the largest and oldest American scheme to allow duty-free imports from less developed countries.

The South African review is “based on IP [intellectual property] protection and enforcement concerns”, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said in an announcement on Friday.

Dates for hearings on South Africa’s involvement have yet to be announced.

The review is rooted in South Africa’s domestically controversial draft updates to copyright legislation, most notably the Performers Protection Amendment Bill and the Copyright Amendment Bill. The two intertwined drafts have seen heavy lobbying from various interest groups, and remain unsigned on the desk of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

A great deal of the debate on the draft laws is centred on the idea of “fair use”, which could effectively exempt some intellectual property from copyright payments – including the likes of expensive textbooks. Read more…

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