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United States Requests WTO Panel in Case Challenging Chinese Barriers to Market Access for Products of Copyright-Intensive Industries

October 11, 2007



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
States requested a panel in August 2007. 

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