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Measures Affecting Trading Rights and Distribution Services for Certain Publications and Audiovisual Entertainment Products

Key Facts
Short Title: China — Publications and Audiovisual Products
Respondent: China
Complaintant(s): United States;
Dispute Number: DS363
Link to Dispute Site: http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds363_e.htm
Dispute Status: Pending

Complaint by the United States.

On 10 April 2007, the United States requested consultations with China concerning:  (1) certain measures that restrict trading rights with respect to imported films for theatrical release, audiovisual home entertainment products (e.g. video cassettes and DVDs), sound recordings and publications (e.g. books, magazines, newspapers and electronic publications); and (2) certain measures that restrict market access for, or discriminate against, foreign suppliers of distribution services for publications and foreign suppliers of audiovisual services (including distribution services) for audiovisual home entertainment products.

  • Regarding trading rights, the United States seeks consultations on various Chinese measures that reserve, to certain Chinese state-designated and wholly or partially state-owned enterprises, the right to import films for theatrical release, audiovisual home entertainment products, sound recordings and publications;

     

  • Regarding distribution services, the United States seeks consultations on various Chinese measures that impose market access restrictions or discriminatory limitations on foreign service providers seeking to engage in the distribution of publications and certain audiovisual home entertainment products.

The United States claims that in relation to the two above-mentioned categories of measures possible inconsistences with the Protocol of Accession, the GATT 1994 or the GATS arise as follows:

  • Regarding trading rights, the measures at issue appear not to allow all Chinese enterprises and all foreign enterprises and individuals the right to import the products into the customs territory of China. It also appears that foreign individuals and enterprises, including those not invested or registered in China, are accorded treatment less favourable than that accorded to enterprises in China with respect to the right to trade. Accordingly, the measures at issue appear to be inconsistent with China's obligations under the provisions of paragraphs 5.1 and 5.2 of Part I of the Protocol of Accession, as well as China's obligations under the provisions of paragraph 1.2 of Part I of the Protocol of Accession (to the extent that it incorporates commitments in paragraphs 83 and 84 of the Report of the Working Party on the Accession of China). Furthermore, to the extent that the measures at issue impose prohibitions or restrictions other than duties, taxes or other charges, on the importation into China of the Products, these measures appear to be inconsistent with China's obligations under Article XI:1 of the GATT 1994.

     

  • Regarding the measures affecting distribution services for publications, these appear to accord less favourable treatment to foreign suppliers of distribution services for publications than that accorded to Chinese suppliers. Accordingly, the measures at issue appear to be inconsistent with China's obligations under Articles XVI and XVII of the GATS. Similarly, the measures affecting distribution services for audiovisual home entertainment products appear to accord less favourable treatment to foreign suppliers of audiovisual distribution services than that accorded to Chinese suppliers, and to impose restrictions on market access on foreign suppliers of audiovisual distribution services for audiovisual home entertainment products. The measures at issue appear to be inconsistent with China's obligations under Articles XVI and XVII of the GATS.

On 25 April 2007, the European Communities requested to join the consultations. Subsequently, China informed the DSB that it had accepted the request of the European Communities to join the consultations.

On 10 July 2007, the United States requested supplemental consultations. On 20 July 2007, the European Communities requested to join the supplemental consultations. On 10 October 2007, the United States requested the establishment of a panel. At its meeting on 22 October 2007, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel. At its meeting on 27 November 2007, the DSB established a panel. The European Communities and Japan reserved their third-party rights. Subsequently, Australia, Korea and Chinese Taipei reserved their third-party rights.

On 17 March 2008, the United States requested the Director-General to determine the composition of the Panel. On 27 March 2008, the Director-General composed the Panel.

On 22 September 2008, the Chairman of the Panel informed the DSB that the Panel would not be able to issue its report within six months due to scheduling difficulties.  The Panel estimates that it will issue its final report to the parties in February 2009.

Panel Proceedings
Brief DateBrief Description
10/22/2008Comments of the United States of America on China's Answers to the Second Set of Questions by the Panel to the Parties (pdf)
10/09/2008Answers of the United States of America to the Second Set of Questions by the Panel to the Parties (pdf)
10/03/2008Executive Summary of the Oral Statement of the United States of America at the Second Substantive Meeting of the Panel (pdf)
09/23/2008Oral Statement of the United States of America at the Second Substantive Meeting of the Panel (pdf)
09/08/2008Executive Summary of the Second Submission of the United States of America (pdf)
08/29/2008Second Submission of the United States of America (pdf)
08/11/2008Answers of the United States to Questions Posed by China (pdf)
08/11/2008Answers of the United States to the First Set of Questions by the Panel to the Parties (pdf)
08/01/2008Executive Summary of the U.S. Oral Statement at the First Panel Meeting (pdf)
07/22/2008Oral Statement of the United States of America at the First Substantive Meeting of the Panel (pdf)
05/23/2008Executive Summary of the First Submission of the United States of America (pdf)
05/13/2008First Submission of the United States of America (pdf)

Appeal Proceedings
Brief DateBrief Description
10/19/2009Appellee Submission of the United States (pdf)
10/07/2009Other Appellant Submission of the United States (pdf)
11/02/2009Oral Statement of the United States