US Wins in WTO A/V Case vs. China as Expected

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 8/12/2009 03:49:00 PM
It's like shooting fish in a barrel sometimes: Sometime ago, the US lodged complaints at the WTO over China's intellectual property regime--mostly dealing with minimum quantities vendors of pirated software need to have to be apprehended (DS362), and this one over limitations on the distribution of imported A/V materials--mostly music, movies, and books (DS363). The former case was something of a split decision, but this one is more unequivocally a US victory. Then again, when you are the primary author of the rules of international organization to date, you do expect comfy wins when you bring things up, eh?

The US Trade Representative lauds this victory. Here is an excerpt although the entire blurb is worth reading if you want to know more:
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed the results of a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel report made public today. The report found that major Chinese restrictions on the importation and distribution of copyright-intensive products such as theatrical films, DVDs, music, books and journals are inconsistent with China's WTO obligations.

The WTO panel called on China to come into compliance with its obligations to allow U.S. companies to import these products into China and to eliminate the discriminatory requirements faced by imported products and their U.S. distributors in China.

"Today, a WTO panel handed a significant victory to America's creative industries," said Ambassador Kirk. "These findings are an important step toward ensuring market access for legitimate U.S. products in the Chinese market, as well as ensuring market access for U.S. exporters and distributors of those products. We will work tirelessly so that American companies and workers can fully realize the market opening benefits that this decision signals."
Of course, you can also view the WTO ruling.Trade watchers will be interested to see if this win emboldens the USTR to implement actions unilaterally over Chinese tire exports already faulted by the US International Trade Commission. With friends like these...

UPDATE: Reuters reports that China expresses its usual "regret" in being at the losing end of WTO cases. It also maintains that distribution of culturally relevant media products can be limited by government fiat as per the WTO rules. See the IELP on this point. As a reminder, China can still appeal this ruling, so this story may not be over just yet.