On March 3, 2008, the United States requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with China concerning China’s treatment of foreign financial information suppliers. China’s regulatory regime required foreign financial information suppliers to operate through a government-designated distributor and prohibited them from establishing local operations to provide their services. In addition, the agency designated by China to regulate these services appeared to have a conflict of interest as it was closely connected to a commercial operator in China. This regime appeared inconsistent with several WTO provisions, including Articles XVI, XVII, and XVIII of the General Agreement on Trade in Services, as well as specific commitments made by China in its WTO accession protocol.
The EU also requested WTO consultations with China on the same measures. The United States, the EC, and China held joint consultations on April 22-23, 2008. On June 20, 2008, Canada requested consultations with China regarding the same measures.
On December 4, 2008, the United States and China informed the DSB that they had reached an agreement with respect to this matter and provided a copy of the agreement for circulation. The agreement calls for China to take certain steps, including the revision and repeal of certain existing measures, as well as the adoption of new measures, to respond to the United States’ concerns regarding the absence of an independent regulator and the imposition of unfair requirements and restrictions on U.S. financial information service suppliers operating in China. China’s commitments under the agreement include the establishment, by January 31, 2009, of an independent regulator for foreign financial information service suppliers, and the implementation of new non-discriminatory and transparent regulations by June 1, 2009. The United States is continuing to monitor China’s implementation of the agreement. The EU and Canada reached identical agreements with China with respect to their disputes on the same matter.