United States Requests WTO Panel in Case Challenging Chinese Barriers to Market Access for Products of Copyright-Intensive Industries
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced today that the United States has requested the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish a dispute settlement panel, the next procedural step in its WTO case challenging China’s restrictions on the importation and distribution of products of copyright-intensive industries such as theatrical films, DVDs, music, books and journals.
“The United States and China have tried, through formal consultations over the last several months, to address U.S. concerns about the importation and distribution barriers that U.S. movies, music and publications face in China. Those discussions have unfortunately not led to a resolution of our concerns, and so we are now taking the next step in this case and asking the WTO to establish a panel.” said USTR spokesman Sean Spicer.
The United States is seeking to eliminate Chinese import and internal distribution barriers that significantly hamper the ability of U.S. publishers and producers of audio-visual products to get their legitimate products into the Chinese marketplace under normal market conditions, thereby enhancing the market for pirated products.
The U.S. panel request focuses on Chinese laws and regulations that deny U.S. companies the right to import books, journals, movies, music, and videos into China; discriminate against U.S. distributors in China; and impede the distribution of these products. The panel request alleges that these restrictions violate various provisions of China’s Protocol of Accession to the WTO, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the “GATT”), and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (the “GATS”).
The United States requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with China over these issues in April of this year, and filed a supplemental consultation request in July. The United States and China held consultations in early June and again in late July. China has not, however, taken steps to address U.S. concerns. The U.S. panel request will be considered by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) at its next meeting, which is scheduled for October 22.
This is the fourth WTO case against China where the United States has requested a WTO dispute settlement panel. The United States requested a panel in September 2006 to examine China’s regulations imposing local content requirements in the auto sector through discriminatory charges on imported auto parts; panel proceedings in that dispute are underway. In July 2007, the United States requested a panel regarding several subsidy programs the United States believes are prohibited under WTO rules. In a dispute concerning deficiencies in China’s legal regime for protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights, the United States requested a panel in August 2007.
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