On the heels of an announcement that Fast Retailing Co Ltd's subsidiary Uniqlo, Japan's largest clothing store chain, is looking to source garments from India, a committee at the US Congress has added India to its list of countries that are failing to address “alarming" levels of online piracy. The International Creativity and Theft-Prevention (ICTP) caucus, a the bipartisan and bi-cameral committee, which was founded in 2003, aims to "preserve the incentive to create new work that adds to our economy and our culture by ensuring that those works are protected from theft.” The ICTP's annual Watch List report is distinct from the US Trade Representative’s annual Special 301 Report, which similarly sets out countries to watch, as the Trade Representative's list identify trade barriers to U.S. companies and products due to the intellectual property laws, such as copyright, patents and trademarks, in other countries. The ICTP's list focuses solely on copyright rather than all forms of intellectual property.
The ICTP's most recent list includes China, Russia, Switzerland, Italy and the Philippines, among other countries. India is, however, the only new addition to the list this year. In addition to its placement on the ICPT's list, India was named on the ‘Priority Watch List’ in the most recent Special 301 Report.
As for Uniqlo, in a statement from the Indian government, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has welcomed the company welcomed the Japan-based company's interest in developing its business in India and highlighted the benefits the country's garment sector offers, including the "availability of cotton, skilled manpower, robust infrastructure, a big domestic market and good ports for exports." Uniqlo will join an array of other fast fashion brands, including Zara, GAP Inc., and Marks & Spencer, among others, which manufacture a portion of their garments and accessories in India. Uniqlo will reportedly maintain its manufacturing partners in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia.