Saturday, 17 November 2007

China's textile trade

Vice-Minister GAO Huchen recently spoke about the state of China's textile trade. Here are some key facts:

1. By restricting the growth on a small portion of China's textile exports (which accounts for only 7.4% of the total value of China's textile exports in 2006), China has been able to secure stable growth for the majority of its textile exports.

2. The utilization rate of the quota under the China-EU textile deal is only 54%−97%.

3. The quantitative restriction would expire at the end of 2007. After that, the textile products under the China-EU deal would be subject to a bilateral monitoring system, but no quota will be applied.

The full statement is available in Chinese here.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

First Chinese in the WTO Appellate Body

According to a leaked report, the WTO Selection Committee for AB
members has recommended Prof. Zhang Yuejiao, along with 3 other
candidates, be appointed as AB members in 2008. If the recommendation
is adopted by the WTO Members, this will be the first time a Chinese
citizen is ever appointed to the "World Court on Trade".

In addition to Prof. Zhang, there are two other new Members from Asia,
i.e., Bautista (Philippines) and Oshima (Japan). As there are now
three members from Asia, the interesting question is which one
represents the Asian seat. Obviously that would not be Japan, as
Japan's seat is among those reserved for three of the quad countries
and Japan usually does not regard itself as part of Asia for various
reasons. As between China and the Philippines, I suspect that China
will probably hold to this seat for a long time, if not forever,
considering that China is the 3rd largest trader and has not had
anyone serving as Panelist yet (excluding those from HK and Chinese
Taipei). Thus, it seems the truly Asian (including Oceania) seat would
be that of the Philippines. This could mean that, in addition to Japan
and China, citizens of other Asian countries, such as Korea, Malaysia
or Singapore, could one day have their citizens appointed as AB
members.

When the WTO AB was first established in 1995, 3 of the 7 seats were
allocated to three of the "Quad countries" while the directorship of
the AB Secretariat allocated to Canada, the fourth Quad member. As
China now claims the AB seat in its own right rather than as a
rotational Asian seat, it seems that China is filling the vacuum left
by Canada, which has dropped out of the top four traders lately, and
becomes a new Quad member.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

HKU ranked 18th in the world 香港大學世界排名十八

Message from The Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni and Friends of the University,

It is my great pleasure to report that in today's Times Higher
Education Supplement (THES), HKU has been ranked 18th amongst
the world's top universities for 2007. This ranking puts us at the top
of all the universities in China and Hong Kong, and makes us the 2nd
highest ranked university in Asia, just after Tokyo University.

Although many of us at the University regard rankings and league
tables with a degree of ambivalence, as they often highlight only
certain aspects of the achievements of universities, I think we can all
agree that our position in the well-respected THES league table at
least indicates that HKU is among the very best in the world.

I hope all members of the HKU Family are proud of the University's
achievement and happy to share its success.

Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone
for the hard work, contribution and dedication, for without which it
would not have been possible for HKU to attain this exceptional
recognition. And, as a publicly funded university, we must also thank
the Government and the general public for believing in our cause and
supporting our endeavours.

I look forward to working with you as we strive to bring the University
to even greater heights of excellence.


Lap-Chee Tsui
Vice-Chancellor

HKU Press Release http://www.hku.hk/press/


各位同事、同學、校友及各界友好:

我很高興向各位報告一個喜訊,今天「泰晤士報高等教育特刊」公佈2007年世界大
學排行榜,香港大學躍居第十八位,實在令人鼓舞。這項排名顯示香港大學在本港
及全國大學中名列首位,在亞洲大學中居亞,緊隨東京大學之後。

雖然港大許多成員對大學排名及此類排行榜都頗為審慎,原因是排行榜著眼點各
異,分別根據大學不同方面的成就進行甄別;縱然如此,我相信大家都同意,港大
在備受重視的「泰晤士報高等教育特刊」中走在前排,至少顯示港大跟世界最優秀
學府並列。

我希望港大這個大家庭所有成員都能以大學的成就為榮,分享這份喜悅。

然而我更希望藉此機會感謝大家辛勤努力,全心全意作出貢獻,正是如此,港大才
能贏得殊榮,得到讚頌。還有,港大作為一所受政府資助的公立大學,我們更要感
謝政府及市民大眾對我們的信賴,支持我們努力向前。

百尺竿頭,我期待大家繼續攜手,力臻卓越,讓香港大學攀上更高峰。

徐立之
香港大學校長

Monday, 5 November 2007

Research Fellow position available from the Emerging Dynamic Global Economies (EDGE) Network

Research Fellow: Emerging Dynamic Global Economies (EDGE) Network

 

WTO Institutional Reform Project

 

Location: University of Ottawa

 

The Emerging Dynamic Global Economies (EDGE) Network is now accepting applications for the position of a Research Fellow for its World Trade Organisation (WTO) Institutional Reform Project. The project is an international collaborative research project, funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE), Canada.

 

Project Description:

 

The project will examine questions relating to the governance and legitimacy of the WTO as an international organization within the rapidly transforming global economy. It will focus fundamentally on the institutional structure of the WTO as an international organization.  Issues to be analyzed are: decision making within the WTO, transparency, internal management structure, external relationships, and the role of regional trade agreements within the multilateral system. The objective of the project is to develop concrete, practical proposals and policy recommendations that are capable of being implemented within the WTO.

 

Qualifications:

 

-         Graduate or post-doc student in international trade law, with knowledge of WTO's institutional structure

-         Strong interest and academic background in the area of international trade law

-         Candidates should be well organized with strong research and writing skills

-         Fluency in English is essential, with strong writing skills in English

-         Candidate must be a citizen of a developing country

 

Start and End Date:

 

We expect to fill this position at the earliest and the fellowship will last until 30 September 2008.

 

Remuneration: Stipend plus transportation and health insurance will be provided

 

To Apply: Please send your CV and a brief note explaining your interests, availability as well as nationality and visa status to the following address:


Emerging Dynamic Global Economies (EDGE) Network

Faculty of Law (Common Law)

University of Ottawa | Université d'Ottawa

57 Louis-Pasteur

Ottawa, Canada K1N 6N5

Email: edge-net@uottawa.ca

Attention: Professor Debra Steger

Friday, 26 October 2007

Expansion of the agenda of WTO?

At the 8-19 October 2007 meeting of the SPS committee of the WTO, the Members discussed the possibility of increasing the transparency of standards set by private firms. Will the WTO further expand its scope to become a WSO (World Standard Organization)?

Contrary to the boring headlines, the headline of this news item, "'untransparent' private standards criticized in a week of more transparency", is also both interesting and provocative.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Made in China: Episode III

The MNCs that choose to manufacturer their products in China are not only responsible for the design defects of such products, but also one fourth of the carbon emissions that have been attributed to China. For more information, check out this new report by the Tyndall Centre of the University of Sussex.  

On the EDGE

Last week, I was invited to speak at the Second Annual Conference of
the EDGE Network (Emerging Dynamic Global Economies) held in
Vancouver, Canada. A project initiated by Prof. Debra Steger from the
University of Ottawa, the purpose of the Network is to help Canada
develop effective strategies to deal with the new international
economic order marked by the new emerging economies, especially China,
India and Brazil.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Made in China: Episode II

Recently the senior executives of Mattel apologized for their recall
of the toys made in China. The Chinese media seize this opportunity to
claim that the wave of Western media reports questioning the country's
export safety was unfair. It is worth noting, however, that
technically the apologies from Mattel are only to the Chinese people,
more specifically the Chinese customers (see below for the excerpt
from Reuters); they are not to the Chinese government, or the Chinese
OEM manufacturers for Mattel.

The Mattel apology underlines the fact that China is not only the
factory of the world, it is also the market of the world, where
billions of consumers, armed with an ever-stronger RMB, tries to buy
more and more goods, which, of course, include Barbie, the top
money-maker for Mattel. Moreover, one can not really separate "Made in
China" with "Sold in China": without the money they make in the
foreign-invested firms in China, how could an average Chinese worker
afford all these expensive Western products? Thus, Mattel probably
should also apologize to their suppliers, because when the workers in
these factories get off work, they become the consumers whom Mattel
wants to please.

Below is the Reuters Report:

China seizes on Mattel apology to emphasize safety
Mon Sep 24, 2007 12:56pm EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - China highlighted Mattel's apology over its recall
of huge numbers of toys on Monday to press Beijing's claim that its
exports are generally safe and foreign politicians and media have
unfairly hyped quality scares.

Before those recalls, a spate of complaints involving unsafe Chinese
products ranging from other toys and seafood to toothpaste that
entered EU and U.S. markets prompted calls on both sides of the
Atlantic for stricter scrutiny of made-in-China goods.

Thomas Debrowski, executive vice president of worldwide operations for
toymaker Mattel Inc, apologized on Friday following recalls of about
21 million Chinese-made toys over five weeks. The recalls stoked U.S.
complaints that lax Chinese quality controls threatened foreign
consumers.

"Mattel takes full responsibility for these recalls and apologizes
personally to you, the Chinese people and all of our customers who
received the toys," Debrowski told China's quality watchdog chief, Li
Changjiang, in Beijing.

The vast majority of recalled toys suffered from a design defect that
was Mattel's own fault, Debrowski said.

Mattel subsequently issued a statement saying his words had been
"mischaracterized" -- though it did not specify how -- and his apology
was directed at buyers of its toys.

But China's state-run media have seized on his remarks to make their
government's case that the country has been the victim of unfair
accusations echoed throughout the international media.

"The apology, though delayed, should help dispel the suspicion
American customers harbor against Chinese-made products," the China
Daily said in an editorial.

"Its (Mattel's) reputation will be impaired when the whole truth about
the recalls is finally made public."

Last week Mattel CEO Robert Eckert had to defend his company's toy
safety record as Democratic lawmakers accused him of stonewalling a
U.S. congressional probe into production practices in China.

The People's Daily -- the official voice of China's ruling Communist
Party -- said the apology showed the wave of Western media reports
questioning the country's export safety was unfair.

"If China's toy exports depended solely on a cheap price and did not
ensure quality, we would never have won such a massive worldwide
market," the paper said, citing a toy-making association official in
Guangdong, the southern province where Mattel produces many of its
toys.

The paper said that China-based suppliers and workers had suffered
unfairly because of the Mattel recalls.

The International Herald Leader, a newspaper issued by the official
Xinhua news agency, called for U.S. news media to follow Mattel's
example and apologize for what it called flagrant bias.

"The U.S. media have also made an irreplaceable contribution to making
made-in-China wear these dark accusations for so long," the paper
said.

But Xinhua has also reported that police detained four Chinese
nationals accused of having supplied one of Mattel's contract
manufacturers, the Lida Toy Company, with the substandard paint behind
the first recall in August.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Wall Street Journal interview on China's first WTO case against the US in 5 years

Recently China brought a case against the US on the measures taken by the US on imports of coated paper. I was interviewed by the WSJ on the case (see below). For those who are interested in knowing more technical details about the case, you can find my posting at the International Economic Law and Policy Blog here.

China, in assertive move, challenges U.S. at WTO
Andrew Batson. The Wall Street Journal Asia. Hong Kong: Sep 17, 2007. pg. 8

BEIJING -- China is showing a new willingness to aggressively defend its interests as the world's largest exporter, filing a case at the World Trade Organization challenging U.S. trade policies.

The dispute concerns trade penalties the U.S. imposed in March in a fairly narrow market for a kind of glossy, high-quality paper, which is used in magazines and art books.

But it has the potential to broadly affect Chinese exporters, because the U.S. broke with 23 years of its practice and allowed U.S. firms much broader leeway to seek protection against Chinese imports.

Underscoring the importance of the case, this is only the second time China has formally used the WTO's dispute-settlement process since it joined the trade group in 2001. The first time was in March 2002, when China followed several other nations in challenging duties U.S. President George W. Bush imposed on steel imports.

In Washington, where anti-China sentiments are fueling a broader political backlash against globalization, the Bush administration brushed aside the complaint.

"We are fully confident in our trade-remedy laws," said Sean Spicer, a spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. Mr. Spicer said the administration intends to "vigorously defend" U.S . trade laws before the WTO.

Chinese officials have long preferred private dialogue to public confrontation and have criticized the U.S. for bringing several cases this year against China at the WTO. Political pressure to block Chinese imports has been rising in the U.S., and the trend has been compounded by recent scares over unsafe Chinese toy imports and pet food tainted with illegal chemicals from China.

With Chinese exporters increasingly worried about access to the U.S. market, China's government is under pressure to challenge any barriers, analysts said.

"Instead of trying to work out the solutions through secret political negotiations, China now becomes more and more willing to use the dispute-settlement system," said Henry Gao, a former WTO official.

China's representative at the WTO, Sun Zhenyu, wrote a letter Friday to his U.S. counterpart, Peter Allgeier, requesting the WTO consultations. The Ministry of Commerce in Beijing declined to comment beyond its initial statement announcing the request.

The U.S. decision at issue concerns a kind of trade measure known as countervailing duties. Such duties can be imposed if complaining companies can demonstrate that their overseas competitors are being subsidized by the government. The measures are distinct from a more common type of trade-protection measure known as antidumping duties, which are intended to stop overseas companies from selling products below cost.

The U.S. designates China as a "nonmarket" economy, a condition that makes it easier for domestic companies to win antidumping actions against Chinese goods. But it hadn't previously permitted companies to also seek countervailing duties against goods from China and other nonmarket economies.

In March, the U.S. Commerce Department reversed that position and imposed preliminary countervailing duties of 10.9% to 20.4% on Chinese producers of the coated paper.

---

Greg Hitt in Washington contributed to this article.

Friday, 14 September 2007

The other side of the TRIPS dispute

According to a senior official from the the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), "We cannot rule out the fact that some transnational corporations abuse their IPR rights and attempt to snuff out the emergence of Chinese firms." Now the matter is not one about TRIPS, it's really about trade and competition instead!

Also, the MOFCOM noted that Chinese companies have suffered lost opportunity costs of between $69.1 billion and $147 billion in recent years as a result of IPR disputes. How much is the loss for Western companies due to the TRIPS violations in China?

More Support for Firms in IPR Disputes
Wednesday,September 12,2007 Posted: 00:31 BJT(1631 GMT)
From:China Daily  

The government is to establish a litigation response contingency fund to help companies deal with intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) has said.

The move comes in the face of increased IPR disputes since China's accession to the WTO in 2001.

The United States International Trade Committee (ITC) has launched 12 cases against Chinese companies - involving $1.66 billion - from January to August this year, Ministry of Commerce officials said.

The number of cases and the amount of money involved showed a year-on-year increase of, respectively, 43.8 percent and 43.2 percent, Yu Benlin, deputy chief of the ministry's fair trade bureau, said.

Such investigations have jeopardized China's hi-tech industries and structural upgrades in the country's trade exports, he said.

For the fifth year in a row, China was accused of the most violations under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. By the end of last year, the US had launched 58 investigations against Chinese companies, since it joined the WTO. There were 13 cases lodged in 2006, accounting for 39.3 percent of the world's total.

SIPO deputy chief Zhang Qin said there were two reasons for this. First, some Chinese firms do not fully understand IPR protection.

Second: "We cannot rule out the fact that some transnational corporations abuse their IPR rights and attempt to snuff out the emergence of Chinese firms."

Wrong impression

Many small and medium-sized firms choose not to challenge IPR accusations in court because of time constraints, complexity and expense, Yu said.

This may have given US investigation agencies the wrong impression that IPR infringements are common among Chinese firms, Yu said.

"This situation has led to (problems) for Chinese companies and the issuance of exclusion orders by foreign companies preventing them from doing business in the US market."

Global rivals request investigations against Chinese companies to prevent them taking significant market share and force them out of the US market because of prohibitive litigation costs, Yu said.

According to the commerce ministry, Chinese companies have suffered lost opportunity costs of between $69.1 billion and $147 billion in recent years as a result of IPR disputes.

The SIPO intends to create a steering committee on corporate IPR management and a mechanism for expert assistance, helping Chinese companies with their patent strategies.

It also aims to provide research for new technologies and products, as well as drafting IPR management charters.

Additionally, it aims to evaluate company performance regarding IPR protection, establish information platforms for domestic and global patents

It will also introduce technology monitoring mechanisms to track the activities of competitors to Chinese firms.

MOFCOM spoke up on the subsidies dispute

In response to the establishment of the panel in the subsidies case,
the MOFCOM made a statement (see below). Two points worth noting
about the statement:
1. According to MOFCOM, the Complainants "misunderstood the relevant
policies", they even "included some measures that have already been
repealed in their panel request".
2. MOFCOM alleged that the Complainants were "doing this for domestic
political reasons, in an attempt to dress up their score-card on WTO
dispute settlement by claiming credit for the unilateral actions by
China to improve its own tax system".

商务部发言人就WTO设立专家组审理 "补贴WTO争端"发表谈话
2007-09-03 22:45 文章来源:商务部
文章类型:转载 内容分类:新闻

日内瓦时间2007年8月31日,WTO争端解决机构(DSB)应美国和墨西哥的请求,设立了专家组审理我补贴WTO争端。

  商务部新闻发言人表示:关于"补贴WTO争端案",中方和美国、墨西哥于3月20日和6月22日在瑞士日内瓦进行了两轮磋商。中方对待磋商的态度是认真的,建设性的。但是美国、墨西哥无视磋商的进展,两次请求设立专家组,WTO争端解决机构于8月31日设立了专家组。

  补贴WTO争端案涉及的范围主要包括,中国对于相关企业予以减免、返还所得税和增值税的有关优惠政策。事实证明,两个起诉方对相关政策有很大的误解,也无视中国经济体制改革的进展和现实。在其设立专家组的请求中,甚至包括了一些早已经被取消的措施。而且,随着中国《企业所得税法》的出台和即将实施,中国有关政策和措施已经完全符合WTO规则。

  发言人指出:中方认为,起诉方的做法是基于国内政治的需要,企图将中国自主完善有关税收法制的活动,粉饰为其诉诸WTO争端解决机制的成果。中方坚信,起诉方的举动将不会改变中方根据社会经济发展的需要,自主完善有关包括税收制度在内的经济法律法规的有关活动。

Monday, 20 August 2007

China's Market Economy Status Recognized by 76 Countries

According to Ms. Zhou Xiaoyan, Commissioner of the Fair Trade Bureau of MOFCOM, 76 countries have recognized China's market economy status. Norway and Switzerland are among the latest in according market economy status to China. More info is available here.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Food Safety: The MOFCOM Voice

The MOFCOM finally speaks about concerns over products Made in China,
especially food safety issues.

商务部副部长、国际贸易谈判代表高虎城就出口产品质量和食品安全答记者问

2007-08-02 16:32 文章来源:商务部新闻办公室
文章类型:原创 内容分类:新闻

  问:3月份以来,国外媒体出现了很多对中国产品质量和食品安全问题的负面报道,你对此有何评论?

  答:我们已经注意到这个问题。我认真阅读了相关报道,归纳起来,大致可分为三类:
  第一类是对具体案件的报道。如美国宠物食品和瑞士掺假玉米谷蛋白事件。此类报道客观反映了目前中国个别出口企业存在的问题,有助于我们查清事实真相,并采取整改措施。对此我们表示欢迎。
  第二类是相对客观和中立的评论。如《纽约时报》7月12日报道,"商品质量不合格是一个全球问题,中国不是美问题商品的唯一来源地";《联合早报》7月25日报道,"食品安全是全世界面临的共同问题,并非一个国家所独有"。对此我们也是持欢迎和尊重态度的。
  第三类则是恶意诋毁"中国制造"。有的说"中国国内注入荷尔蒙的快餐让6岁的男孩儿长胡子,让7岁的女孩儿乳房发育";有的宣称"中国产品是死神";有的甚至扬言"要在商品上贴上非中国制造的标签"。对此类捕风捉影、以偏概全,甚至无中生有、恶意炒作的报道,我们坚决反对。这些媒体的真实用意令人深思。在经济全球化快速发展的今天,仍然对中国产品无端猜忌,惧怕市场竞争,看不到贸易的互惠互利,企图通过构筑各种壁垒阻止中国产品,让人感到十分遗憾。其实质还是贸易保护主义的翻版,是"中国威胁论"的变种。
  我相信,中国出口产品质量不会因为一些媒体不负责任的炒作而变坏,客观理性的人们会做出正确的判断与选择。

  问:从中方公布的调查情况看,个别中国出口产品的确存在问题,你是如何看的?

  答:首先,看问题要全面。比如,近期颇为媒体关注的牙膏,去年出口额为8000万美元,不到中国9700亿美元出口总额的万分之一;其中,被查出含二甘醇的为330万美元,占三十万分之一。不能因为个别产品存在问题,就怀疑中国出口商品的总体质量,那不是科学的态度。负责任地说,中国出口商品质量安全是有保障的。前不久,日本厚生省公布了2006年日本进口食品合格率,其中自中国进口的食品合格率为99.42%,而美国是98.69%,欧盟是99.38%。日本是中国食品的最大出口市场,我想,他们的数据能说明一些问题。
  其次,要用发展的眼光看。中国是一个发展中国家,经济技术水平与发达国家有差距,个别企业社会责任意识较为淡薄,产品质量安全问题无法完全避免。事实上,我国国内一直在打击假冒伪劣产品,对产品质量安全也多有曝光。在某种程度上,出口产品质量安全问题是国内问题的溢出。但也要看到,中国产品的质量一直在稳步提高。譬如,上半年中国蔬菜农残合格率超过94%,较2003年提高了12个百分点。如果说,过去确实有一些中国产品是地摊货、大路货,现在高档商场货架上"中国制造"已比比皆是。
  需要指出的是,中国政府与其他国家政府一样,高度重视产品质量安全问题。对出现的问题,我们从来不回避,始终本着实事求是、负责任的态度来处理解决。近期出现这些案件,只要责任在中方,我们都立即采取有效的措施,查处涉案企业,整顿出口秩序。

  问:国外媒体炒作是否会对我国产品出口产生影响?

  答:从上半年情况看,我国出口仍保持稳步增长的态势,累计增长27.6%,达5467亿美元。其中,食品、药品、玩具等境外负面报道较多的商品也分别增长了22.2%、41%和27.7%。这说明,绝大多数进口商、零售商和消费者是理性的,不会因为一些片面之辞就改变对中国产品的基本评价。但也不可否认,某些恶意攻击,一定程度上损害了中国产品的形象,可能会误导部分消费者。
  中国政府高度重视,确保出口商品质量安全,出台了一系列有针对性的措施,如颁布《国务院关于加强食品等产品安全监督管理的特别规定》。相关政府部门也各司其职,加大了监管力度。商务部、质检总局、农业部还积极利用各种渠道,加强对外交涉,增信释疑,努力把负面报道的影响降到最小。
  我们也希望,我国企业能从中吸取教训,并以此为契机,变压力为动力,增强质量安全意识,进一步提高产品质量。这是赢得国际市场,抵御风险的唯一途径。

  问:在外贸领域,有无针对出口产品质量方面的法律法规,商务部采取了哪些出口质量监管措施?

  答:关于出口产品质量,《外贸法》明确规定,为保护人或动植物的生命、健康或安全,保护环境,国家采取限制或禁止进出口的措施;国家实行统一的商品合格评定制度,对进出口商品进行认证、检验、检疫;对违法违规企业,可以取消其一至三年对外贸易经营权;构成犯罪的,依法追究刑事责任。
  近年来,商务部依照《外贸法》,进一步加强了对违法违规企业的监管与处罚:
  一是加快推进外贸信用体系建设步伐。目前,商务部正在深圳市进行试点,下一步将在全国范围内逐步推广。最终要建立全国联网的跨部门信息共享平台,实现多部门联合共管,真正做到使失信者受惩戒、守信者得便利。
  二是依据《对外贸易经营者违法违规行为公告办法》,建立了出口企业
"黑名单"制度,并依法处理了一批违法违规企业。截至目前,已对429家企业进行了处罚,近期美国宠物食品事件涉及的江苏徐州安营公司和山东滨州富田公司都已被依法停止了外贸经营权。
  三是与海关、外汇、质检、税务等部门,建立 "对外贸易经营者违法违规信息交换机制",联合共管,整顿和规范外贸秩序,使违法者处处碰壁,最终被清理出局。
  四是在商务部政府网站上开辟了"外贸秩序"专栏,将外贸秩序所涉及的法律法规、典型案例等方面的内容在网上发布,增加工作透明度,同时对企业经营起到提示和警示作用。

  问:对西方媒体报道我们出口产品的质量问题,似乎我们的声音还不够大,你怎么看?

  答:事实上,中国政府高度重视此事,专司我国出口产品质量的国家质检总局、食品药品监督局等部门已多次召开新闻发布会,说明事实真相。
  中国是负责任的贸易大国,不仅对中国人民,也对世界消费者负责。遇到问题,我们首先要自问有没有这些问题,要深入调查,摸清情况,而不是立即反驳,硬顶回去。由于涉及多个生产、贸易环节,本着对企业和消费者负责的态度、审慎地处理各个案件,客观上也需要时间。
  情况基本明朗后,中国政府立即从不同渠道作出回应。5月31日,质检总局、食品药品监督局、卫生部联合召开了关于二甘醇牙膏、TD甘油事件调查结果的新闻发布会。其后,质检总局等部门又多次接受媒体采访,进一步说明和澄清。6月以来,商务部新闻发言人已多次在新闻发布会上阐述了中方的立场。
  最近,温总理明确指出,要加强舆论和信息工作,建立统一、科学、权威、有效的质量和食品安全信息发布制度。相信今后对质量和食品安全事件,公众会更加及时地收到更多的信息。

  问:关于产品质量安全的国际合作,中方有何设想?

  答:产品质量安全是各国面临的共同挑战,不是哪一个国家独有的问题。前些年,国际上也发生过多起影响巨大的质量安全事件。如2005年英国苏丹红事件、美国"毒菠菜"事件,2006年美国肯德基反式脂肪油事件、日本"不二家"过期原料糕点事件,都曾轰动一时。世界卫生组织最近发表声明说,他们每个月要收到200份来自193个成员国的食品安全报告。在产品质量安全问题上,相互指责无助于问题的解决,加强国际合作才是解决问题的有效途径。
  基于这一理念,中国商务部早在2005年3月就倡议在APEC范围内开展食品安全合作,并于2006年与澳大利亚共同推动成立了
APEC食品安全合作论坛。今后一段时期,在国际合作方面,我们将继续抓好以下几点:
  一是推动以提高检验检疫技术、完善出口产品质量立法以及提高执法水平等为目标的国际交流与合作。
  二是遵循WTO技术性贸易壁垒协定(TBT)和实施卫生与植物卫生协定(SPS)的原则,在多边领域,加强风险评价和风险管理方面的合作与交流。
  三是鼓励行业协会和企业参与国际标准制订,广泛开展完善风险控制和确保产品质量方面的交流与合作,推行国际标准或进口国标准。
  四是建立政府间配合调查、共同澄清等方面的应急磋商机制,探讨突发产品质量安全事件的应急处理机制。

  问:如何评价"中国制造"在世界贸易中的地位和作用?

  答:改革开放以来,中国积极参与经济全球化,对外贸易取得很大发展,"中国制造"已成为世界经济贸易发展的重要动力。2006年,我国出口总额已达9690亿美元,是1978年的100倍,仅次于德、美,位居世界第三,是欧盟、日本最大进口来源国,是美国第二大进口来源国。质优价廉的"中国制造",对降低全球生产成本,优化资源配置发挥了重要作用。
  对各国消费者而言,"中国制造"更不可或缺。目前,中国的空调、DVD机、照相机、笔记本电脑等700多种产品出口居世界第一位,平均每小时向世界各地输出货物超过1亿美元。美国萨拉•班吉奥尔尼女士很好地概括了消费者对于"中国制造"的感受,她写道:没有中国产品,你也可以生活,只是生活会变得艰辛,而且家庭开支也会大增。
  "中国制造"也是国际分工协作的成果和结晶。从贸易方式看,中国出口中50%以上是加工贸易出口,这些产品都是按照外国订货商的要求和标准生产的。从出口主体看,外商投资企业出口占中国出口总额的58%。在国内外市场上,国有、民营、外商投资企业相互学习,相互合作,平等竞争,共同培育了"中国制造"。在这个意义上,"中国制造"实际上也是"世界制造",是世界制造业发展和国际分工的必然结果,是经得起考验的。

Thursday, 26 July 2007

End of the Manufacturing Empire?

Bloomberg recently carried a report on China's move to limit exports of the lalor-intensive products. Will this, coupled with the charges over products " Made in China", mark the end of the Manufacturing Empire of China?

China to Limit Exports of Labor-Intensive Products  

By Li Yanping                                     
 
July 25 (Bloomberg) -- China will curb exports of cheap labor-intensive products to force manufacturers into making higher-quality goods, in a move to narrow the world's largest trade surplus and reduce environmental damage.                  

The Ministry of Commerce will expand its catalogue of processed goods subject to export limits in the second half of 2007, following the July 23 move to increase a levy for exporters, the ministry's industry director Wang Qinhua said today.                  

``The new policy will add cost and affect the cash flow of exporters, especially those engaged in the labor-intensive part of the industry,'' she said at a press conference in Beijing. ``Our calculation shows that the impact will force exporters to increase value to their products and upgrade their technology.''                  

China's record $112.5 billion first-half trade surplus has fanned tensions with the U.S. and European Union, flooding the world's fourth-largest economy with more than $1.3 trillion in foreign currency reserves. Cheap wages and lax environmental rules have attracted manufacturers, 50 percent of them invested by Hong Kong companies, to produce leather goods, electronics, metal products, toys and other goods for sales abroad.                  

``Every nation wants to upgrade its technology, especially at a time of increasing global competition and rising raw material costs,'' said Huang Yiping, Citigroup Inc.'s Hong Kong- based China economist. ``Many companies in China already have been moving up the technology ladder and value chain, and this new policy will only accelerate this process.''                  

Capital Requirement                  

China on July 23 said it would raise a levy on companies that import metals, plastic and textiles into China for use in products that will in turn be shipped abroad.                  

A total of 1,853 types of commodities including copper, lead, zinc and cloth will be added to the restricted category, requiring importers to deposit half of their payable levies including duty and value-added tax at the customs office, according to the trade ministry's statement.                  

The new limit may add about 8 billion yuan ($1.06 billion) to costs for exporters, 50 percent of which have been invested by Hong Kong-based companies, the commerce ministry's trade director Wang Jian said today.                  

``Hong Kong-invested producers will probably be the hardest- hit by this move,'' the ministry's industry director Wang said today. The trade ministry needs the move ``due to the changing international and domestic environment and China's promise to upgrade its industries,'' she said, adding the government will provide some aid and incentives to help Hong Kong manufacturers with the transition.                  

Killing the Growth Engine?                  

China's economy, expanding 10 percent every year on average since 1982, has been driven mostly by the so-called processing trade, in which companies import tax-deductible raw materials to turn into export products.                  

The proportion of processing trade has surged 333-fold over the past 25 years and accounted for 45 percent of China's total value of imports and exports in the first six months of this year, according to the trade ministry's data.                  

The government doesn't want to completely stop investments that have helped the economy balloon almost 40-fold in the past 25 years.                  

Manufacturers can be exempted from the exports limit if they shift their production to inland provinces including Shaanxi, Xinjiang and Gansu further away from the Chinese coast, part of a plan by the government to close the income gap between the wealthy coastal cities and the interior, Wang said today.                  

Western Region Exempted                  

``Processing trade manufacturers can alternatively move to central or western regions from the south and east coasts to be exempted from the export restrictions,'' she said. ``Production and labor costs are relatively low.''                  

China's 2008 trade surplus is estimated to increase 45 percent to a record $257 billion.                  

That's prompted some U.S. congressmen to draft legislation to force the Chinese central bank to let the yuan strengthen against the dollar. Some lawmakers have also called for laws to tie Chinese exports to the country's environmental and labor record.                  

In a series of moves this year, China lowered export incentives and increased tariffs to slow the pace of overseas sales and ease trade tension with major partners including the U.S. and the European Union.                  

The latest move to restrict exports also strike at energy- intensive industries with high amounts of emissions and effluents, in an attempt to reduce China's energy dependence and improve the country's environmental record. The policy may not be able to pare the trade record, said Societe Generale's Chief Asia Economist Glenn Maguire.                  

Buying Time?                  

``This buys some time politically but it's clearly supportive of a large trade surplus in the longer term,'' as manufacturers shift to higher-end products, Maguire said today in Hong Kong. ``China still has to allow the yuan to appreciate to ease excess liquidity in the economy.''                  

The yuan has strengthened 9.5 percent against the U.S. dollar since the Chinese central bank ended the currency's dollar link in 2005.                  

Some U.S. lawmakers deem the gain as insufficient. The U.S. Senate Finance Committee is set to consider legislation tomorrow to push China to raise the value of its currency.                  

The economy expanded 11.9 percent in the second quarter, the fastest pace in 12 years, backed by an 84 percent jump in trade surplus because exporters produced more and rushed their shipments ahead of a June deadline to curb overseas sales.                  

Separately, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese government's top planning agency, said today the prevention of ``overheating'' is the most important policy goal in the second half of 2007, reiterating a government priority to curb inflation.          

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Made in China: CNN Interview

It seems that in addition to the WSJ, the CNN is also interested in food safety issues. They interviewed me in HK last week, and the special program on this, called "Made in China", will be aired in HK on Thursday July 26 at 1930pm and 2230pm, then again on Friday July 27 at 0030am and 0930am.

The schedules for other regions of the world on July 26 are: Buenos Aires 1130 Berlin 1630 New Delhi 2000.

You can find more about this special program here

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Another interview with the Wall Street Journal: Safety Becomes a Hot Trade Issue

I was recently interviewed by the WSJ for the trade war between the US and China on technical standards. Here's the story. The WSJ (China) also has a Chinese version here, which is also reproduced at the end of the current page:

Safety supplants quotas as hot-button trade issue; As China, U.S. play tit for tat, fears grow rules may be abused

Andrew Batson. The Wall Street Journal Asia. Hong Kong: Jul 16, 2007. pg. 1


As China and other nations exchange heated accusations over the safety of their food and other products, it is becoming clear that safety and quality standards are increasingly replacing tariffs and quotas as focal points for international trade disputes.


In the latest of what appears to be an escalating series of tit-for-tat moves, Chinese authorities Friday announced a temporary suspension of imports of some products from several U.S. meat processors, including Tyson Foods Inc., Sanderson Farms Inc. and Cargill Inc. The notice said China's tests had found safety problems including salmonella in frozen chicken from Tyson and residues of growth hormones in Cargill's frozen pork ribs.

The move highlights the Chinese government's determination to show it has food-safety issues under control after a series of scares and scandals has undermined the confidence of domestic consumers and hurt the image of China's exports abroad. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has blocked shipments of Chinese-made toothpaste and of several types of farm-raised Chinese seafood, because of worries about chemical contamination. In recent days, Chinese authorities have pledged to tighten scrutiny of exported products, and said that thousands of unlicensed or unsafe food producers have been closed down.

They also have pledged to look more closely at what China is importing from abroad. In addition to the frozen chicken and pork ribs blocked last week, China in recent weeks has turned back shipments of French bottled water, Australian seafood and U.S. drink mix that authorities said were contaminated or failed safety tests.

Safety standards have a history of being used as trade barriers, a pattern that observers in both China and the U.S. worry may be reappearing. The back and forth of blocked imports looks increasingly like a trade battle, although one in which accusations of endangering consumers have taken the place of charges of unfair competition and dumping.

'We are likely to see these requirements increasingly being used, and abused, as a trade barrier,' says Leora Blumberg, an international-trade adviser based in Hong Kong for the law firm Heller Ehrman LLP. Ms. Blumberg, a former South African trade official, says that a series of global trade pacts has reduced import duties across the board and restrained nations' ability to block trade through other means.

The current U.S. furor over issues such as tainted pet food and dangerous toys that were made in China has emerged at a time when U.S.-China trade is a potent political issue in Washington. Several U.S. lawmakers had called for trade sanctions against China because of what they describe as unfair trading practices, even before safety concerns became widespread.

'It's difficult to weigh what is the safety element and what is the trade element, but my sense is that both elements are there in the discussions,' says Zhang Hongjun, a partner in the law firm of Holland & Knight LLP who divides his time between China and the U.S. 'Certainly it provides a lot of support to the people who are anti-international trade or anti-China trade.'

The growing food-safety tension between the U.S. and China threatens to further complicate an already delicate period in relations between two of the world's major economies. 'The risk is a cascade of punitive or blocking steps, misinterpretation, second guessing and retaliation,' Donald Straszheim, of the investment firm Roth Capital Partners, wrote in a recent report. 'This is the last thing we need.'

No one disputes that regulators in China and the U.S. have genuine concerns over consumer welfare and food safety. The rise in public concern over health and food safety in wealthy North American and European countries also has pushed governments to be tougher on safety standards.

But the highly technical nature of food safety and product standards gives governments a lot of leeway in practice, and makes it difficult to ensure that rules are enforced fairly and objectively. That is challenging the international-trade system to find ways to resolve this particularly thorny type of trade dispute.

'There are lots of standards where it's impossible to judge whether it is for consumer protection or to create trade barriers,' says Henry Gao, a former World Trade Organization official who now teaches at the University of Hong Kong. The WTO requires any safety standard to have a scientific basis, but that is usually 'a procedural safeguard, not a substantive analysis,' Mr. Gao says. That is because the WTO often isn't equipped to judge the scientific basis of such rules, so it simply looks to see whether a country followed a proper process when drafting them.

Adding to the convergence between the two issues is that sometimes groups calling for trade protection also are flagging safety concerns.

For instance, the Southern Shrimp Alliance, a U.S. industry group that has filed trade complaints against imported Chinese shrimp, also has called for more testing of imported seafood, calling the nation 'a known violator of U.S. food-safety laws.' China has acknowledged shortcomings in its regulatory system but says more than 99% of U.S. food imports from China passed Food and Drug Administration inspection in each of the last three years.

'Governments are sometimes pressured to go beyond what is necessary to protect human, animal and plant health and to use this type of restriction to protect domestic industries from foreign competition,' says Ms. Blumberg, of the Heller Ehrman law firm.

China and other developing nations frequently complain that tough safety standards are being used to keep their products out of rich nations' markets. Poorer nations often don't have the resources or expertise to cope with constantly shifting technical requirements, or to effectively challenge them as trade restraints. At meetings this year of WTO committees, several developing countries said they feel the expanding number of standards is blocking trade. Argentina, for example, has asked for a review of new standards on acceptable levels of pesticide residues.

China has stepped up efforts to make sure exporters are up to date on new standards in their target markets. The government has estimated that 15% of all Chinese exporters encountered some form of technical trade barrier last year, causing them direct losses of some $75.8 billion. China exported $969.08 billion of goods last year.

'Traditional trade policies like tariffs and quotas have less and less impact on international trade, while the impact of technical trade policies such as standards, technical regulations and conformity-assessment procedures is becoming increasingly obvious,' China's Commerce Ministry said last week.

The WTO has a special committee devoted to food-safety issues in trade — known as 'sanitary and phytosanitary measures' — where nations can raise concerns about each other's policies. But many disputes drag on for years: Out of 245 problems raised at the committee over the past decade, a solution has been reported for only 66, according to WTO figures.

One outstanding complaint by the U.S. is China's restrictions on imports of U.S. beef, which date from the finding of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, in a U.S. cow in 2003. The U.S. has taken several measures to make sure supplies of beef won't be contaminated by any future cases of the disease, and contends China's import ban is excessively cautious. The U.S. ambassador to China recently met with the agency in charge, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. But despite such lobbying, the ban hasn't been lifted.

產品安全取代配額成為貿易爭端焦點
2007年07月16日15:11
隨著中國與其貿易夥伴在食品等產品安全問題上的相互指責愈演愈烈﹐我們越來越清楚地看到﹐安全與質量標準正日益取代關稅及配額﹐成為國際貿易爭端中的主角。

中國政府週五"以牙還牙"﹐ 宣佈暫停進口泰森食品有限公司(Tyson Foods Inc.)、嘉吉公司(Cargill Inc.)和Sanderson Farms Inc.等數家美國肉類加工商的部分產品。中國在公告中稱﹐檢測中在上述公司部分產品中發現了安全問題﹐如泰森的凍雞中含有沙門氏菌﹐嘉吉的冷凍豬排骨中含有生長激素殘餘物。

特別報導
‧ "中國製造"危機
面對近期發生的一系列有損國內消費者信心和出口產品形像的醜聞﹐中國政府此舉凸現了其嚴格控制食品安全的決心。此前﹐美國食品和藥物管理局(Food and Drug Administration, FDA)禁止了中國產牙膏和多種養殖海產品的進口﹐原因是擔心這些產品受到了化學污染。近日來﹐中國有關部門已承諾加大對出口商品的審查力度﹐同時表示已下令關閉了數千家無證經營和生產問題食品的企業。

中國政府同時表示也要加強對進口商品的檢查。除了上週被禁的凍雞和冷凍排骨外﹐中國近期已連續查禁了法國瓶裝水、澳大利亞海產品和美國飲料等進口商品﹐稱這些產品或是受到了污染﹐或是沒有通過安全檢測。

安全標準歷史上就曾被用作設立貿易壁壘的武器﹐而今中美觀察家心中皆有歷史重演的擔心。當前這種你來我往相互封鎖產品進口的形勢看上去已越來越像是一場貿易大戰﹐只是戰爭的焦點變了﹐相互指控的目標從原來的傾銷和不公平競爭變成了現在的危害消費者權益。

曾經身為南非貿易官員、現擔任律師事務所Heller Ehrman LLP駐香港國際貿易顧問的麗奧拉•布隆博格(Leora Blumberg)說﹐使用、濫用安全標準作為貿易壁壘的情況可能會越來越多﹐現有的一系列全球貿易協議已使得貿易進口關稅普遍下降﹐國家間通過其他手段設立貿易壁壘的行為也受到了大大的限制。

美中貿易而今已經成為華盛頓的重大政治問題﹐好幾位美國議員早在食品安全問題爆發之前就已呼籲就他們稱之為"不公平貿易行為"的做法對中國實行貿易制裁。當前美國政府對諸如寵物食品和兒童玩具等一系列涉及中國進口產品的事件大動肝火正是在這樣一種背景下發生的。

"很難說這裡面哪些是安全層面哪些是貿易層面的因素﹐但我的感覺是兩個層面的因素都有﹐"Holland & Knight 律師事務所合夥人張紅軍如是說。這位為工作而不斷往返中美兩地的律師同時表示﹕"當然﹐這給那些反對國際貿易或反對對華貿易的人提供了不少的口實。"

中美食品安全問題上緊張氣氛的不斷加劇有可能使這兩個世界主要經濟體之間眼下本已相當微妙的關係變得更加複雜。投資公司Roth Capital Partners的唐納德•斯特拉斯哲姆(Donald Straszheim)在近日的一份報告中寫道﹐目前的風險是﹐從懲罰性和限制性舉措﹐到接下來的曲解、猜忌和報復﹐勢態會不斷升級﹐這些是我們最不願看到的事情。

沒有人懷疑中美兩國的監管機構的確是在為食品安全和消費者利益著想。北美、歐洲等發達地區公眾對健康和食品安全的憂慮已推動政府實行更加嚴格的安全標準也是不爭的事實。

然而﹐食品安全和產品標準的高技術性特徵使政府在實際操作中有了很多的自由空間﹐因而很難確保執行過程的客觀與公正。在此情況下﹐國際貿易體系如何尋找新的方法來解決這一類極其棘手的貿易爭端便成了一個巨大的挑戰。

曾任世界貿易組織(World Trade Organization, WTO)官員、現在香港大學(University of Hong Kong)任教的高樹超(Henry Gao)說﹐標準有很多很多﹐你根本無法判斷它什麼時候是為了保護消費者﹐什麼時候是為了設立貿易壁壘。他說﹐世貿組織要求任何安全標準都要有科學依據﹐ 但這往往只是程式上的保護﹐而非實質性的分析。那是因為世貿組織往往不具備判別這類安全標準科學依據的能力﹐因此它只是看成員國在起草安全標準時是否遵循了恰當的程序。

此外﹐有些團體在大喊貿易保護的同時也在揮舞安全問題的大旗﹐這也使二者之間的界線變得更加模糊。

舉例來說﹐美國行業團體Southern Shrimp Alliance在對中國進口蝦產品提出貿易申訴的同時﹐還要求加強對中國進口海產品的檢測﹐稱中國是"違反美國食品安全法的慣犯"。中國則一方面承認自身監管體系的不足﹐同時卻表示過去三年間中國出口美國的產品中有99%以上都通過了FDA的檢測。

前文提到的Heller Ehrman國際貿易顧問布隆博格說﹐有時政府是迫於壓力才在保護人和動植物健康所必須的手段之外使用這一類限制措施來保護本國企業免受海外競爭的衝擊。

中國等發展中國家常常抱怨稱﹐發達國家設置嚴格的安全標準﹐目的就是為把發展中國家的產品擋在它們自己的市場之外。面對頻繁變動的技術要求﹐發展中國家往往無力應對﹐也無法積極應戰﹐他們既沒有資源﹐也缺乏技術。在世貿組織今年的會議上﹐幾個發展中國家就表示他們覺得標準數量與日俱增有礙全球貿易的發展﹐其中阿根廷要求對殺蟲劑殘留物可接受水平的新標準進行重新審核。

中國也已加緊努力確保其出口商隨時跟得上各出口市場安全標準的變化。據中國政府估算﹐本國15%的出口商去年遭遇到一定程度的技術性貿易壁壘﹐直接損失約758億美元。中國去年的出口總額為9, 690.8億美元。

中國商務部上週指出﹐關稅、配額等傳統貿易政策對國際貿易的影響已越來越小﹐而安全標準、技術性規定、合格評定程序等技術性貿易政策的影響正變得愈加顯著。

世貿組織下設有一個專門委員會﹐負責處理貿易活動中的食品安全問題﹐成員國可以向其提出對各國貿易政策的不滿。可是有很多問題在擱置數年後仍是懸而未決--世貿組織數據顯示﹐過去10年間該委員會共收到245項申訴﹐得到解決的僅有66項。

美國就中國限制美國牛肉進口所提出的申訴就是眾多未決案中的一起。此案事起2003年美國一頭牛被發現染有瘋牛病。事發後美國採取了多項措施確保今後的牛肉供應不會受到污染或瘋牛病困擾﹐但中國一直沒有取消美國牛肉進口禁令。美國因此向世貿組織提出申訴﹐稱中國進口禁令過分。近日美國駐華大使與中國國家質量監督檢驗檢疫總局(General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine)官員見了面﹐但遊說無果﹐禁令猶在。

Andrew Batson

Thursday, 5 July 2007

My interview on the US-China TRIPS case at the Wall Street Journal

U.S. Piracy Case May Raise Trade Tensions With China

Washington - The Bush administration formally took its longstanding spat with China over pirated movies, music and books to the World Trade Organization. The move represents a further increase in trade tensions between the two countries.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab made the official announcement. "Piracy and counterfeiting levels in China remain unacceptably high," Ms. Schwab said in a prepared statement.

While acknowledging China's leaders have made progress to improve property rights protections for movies, music, books and other goods, she said the U.S. and China haven't been able to agree on legal changes the U.S. believes are needed for China to comply with its commitments as a member of the WTO.

The U.S. plans Tuesday to ask for dispute-settlement consultations from the WTO on two matters: one claiming deficiencies in China's legal structures to protect and enforce copyrights and trademarks; and the other challenging barriers to China's market for books, music, videos and movies.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce didn't have any immediate comment on the expected move, which was reported in Saturday's editions of The Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

While supported by the U.S. movie and music businesses, the complaints have stirred unease among executives of other U.S. industries, including drug companies and high-tech manufacturers. Many fear that a clash with China over piracy could undermine the increasing cooperation they have won over the past year with local Chinese officials on combating the problem.

Ma Xiushan, deputy general secretary of the China Intellectual Property Society, said the cases will be seen as a negative signal from the U.S. at a time "when China is working very hard to narrow our distance from the U.S. and other developed countries in intellectual property rights protection."

Henry Gao, a former WTO official who teaches at the University of Hong Kong now, said, "I am not sure the U.S. can win this case." He noted that the criminal penalties for piracy in China are, under WTO rules, supposed to be "consistent with the level of penalties applied for crimes of a corresponding gravity." It isn't obvious what crimes are equivalent to being caught with 500 CDs, he said. "This is where the U.S. will have to come up with some really good arguments."

"This will drag the WTO into sensitive political issues and I think the WTO probably will be very cautious here," he added. Yet he noted that in the past China has taken action to defuse WTO complaints before they come to a head.

China has taken a number of steps recently to crack down on piracy, increasing penalties and lowering the thresholds for what constitutes a criminal act. Chinese provincial authorities have worked alongside U.S. industries to carry out a series of raids against factories and warehouses trafficking in counterfeit goods.

"The piracy issue is a world-wide issue," said Chen Zhaokuan, deputy director of the Copyright Society of China. "Many countries are facing the same challenges in their anti-piracy campaigns. For China, we are a later-comer in this area, and it's natural that the sense of copyright protection among the Chinese people is not that strong. Considering how much work we have done to promote the copyrights protection and to fight against piracy in the past 10 years, we already have made many achievements."

U.S. industry groups that aren't expected to support the WTO cases include the Business Software Alliance, whose members include Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc., and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug industry's main trade group. Both sectors have made their own market-access and antipiracy advances and don't want to see that work disturbed, administration and industry officials said.

The cases add to a list of U.S. trade actions against China in recent months. The administration in February filed a WTO case alleging that Beijing doled out unfair subsidies to a range of Chinese industries, while last month the Commerce Department broke decades of precedent by opening the way for U.S. companies to seek higher tariffs on some Chinese paper imports found to have benefited from government subsidies.

The first case will make a number of specific complaints against China's enforcement of its own piracy laws. Current Chinese law says that in the case of counterfeit CDs, for instance, one must be caught with at least 500 to be charged with a crime. The U.S. will argue that there should be no such threshold.

The case will also argue that it should be illegal to either distribute or produce counterfeit goods. Chinese law requires one to be caught doing both before being charged.

"This case is going to be very technical, very targeted and very specific," said one industry official with knowledge of the administration's case.

The other complaint will target what the U.S. alleges to be overly restrictive rules on the distribution of foreign CDs, DVDs, books and other media products. The case won't seek to overturn the limit placed by Beijing on foreign films that are allowed to show in Chinese theaters, which is now set at 20 films a year.

DVDs of Hollywood blockbusters and CDs of the latest pop hits are readily available in shops or on streetcorners in Chinese cities. Almost all of them -- 90% or more, according to most industry estimates -- are illegal copies. The problem has also stunted the development of China's own film industry, as pirated DVDs hit the market so quickly that most films can make little money from ticket sales or legitimate DVD sales.

One reason the U.S. is also pushing its complaint about restrictions on distribution of foreign movies is that there is currently little legally available content to compete with pirated versions in China. As previously reported, studios like Fox and Warner have been trying to market legitimate DVD products in China at prices the local market can bear in an effort to wean Chinese consumers off pirated alternatives.

Seoul Symposium on "FTAs in Asia and WTO"

On June 22, at the invitation of Prof. Won-mog Choi and the Korean Scoeity of International Economic Law, I presented a paper on China's FTA strategy at a symposium in Seoul. It was my first time in Korea, and I found it a wonderful country.

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Tuesday, 26 June 2007

China's Anti-dumping System turns 10

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the anti-dumping system in China, the MOFCOM held a conference on the Law and Practice of Anti-dumping System in China from the 25th to 26th of June. At the conference, Vice-Minister Gao Hucheng noted that Chinese firms have become more willing to use international rules to protect their own interests, while the Chinese investigating authorities have greatly improved their ability to apply anti-dumping measures and participate in making international rules. As a result, China has initiated 48 investigations and adopted anti-dumping measures in 35 cases. Indeed, according to the statistics from the WTO, China has become one of the major users of anti-dumping measures.

Notwithstanding its achievements, China's anti-dumping system still suffers from some major problems. In the article "Procedural Issues in the Anti-Dumping Regulations of China: A Critical Review Under the WTO Rules", I analyzed some of these problems. You can find the article here.

The Mighty Pen, the Almighty Dollar, and the Holy Hammer and Sickle

On April 10, 2007, the United States took the unprecedented move by filing two complaints against China in the WTO. While there have been a lot of discussions on the first complaint, i.e., the case on measures affecting the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, the second compliant has received little attention. In my view, the second complaint is more interesting as it illustrates the tension between trade liberalization and open economy on the one side, and political censorship and ideological control on the other side, which is the defining feature of the Chinese society today.

I will be presenting my latest paper on this case at the International Conference on"Culture Diversity under International Trade Regime: Policy and Practices", which will be held at the National Taiwan University in Taipei this Wednesday and Thursday. You can find more details about the conference here.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Another Top Ten on the SSRN

Another of my paper made Top Ten on the SSRN. This is "Procedural Issues in the Anti-Dumping Regulations of China: A Critical Review Under the WTO Rules", which was recently listed on SSRN's Top Ten download list for "Asian Law". It is a paper that I co-authored with Dr. Won-Mong Choi from Korea. The paper is available here.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Another Top Ten in the SSRN: China's Participation in the WTO: A Lawyer's Perspective

Another good news: In addition to being listed on SSRN's Top Ten download list for "Emerging Markets: Economics", my paper "China's Participation in the WTO: A Lawyer's Perspective" also made into the Top Ten Papers for "International Law & Trade Journals" for the period of April 6, 2007 to June 5, 2007. My paper is also one of the only two in the Top Ten dealing with the traditional trade (WTO) issues, with the others mostly on tax and IP topics.

Thanks for the interests from all of you. For those of you who wants to know more about the paper, it is available at http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=958877. More details on the ranking can be found here.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Welcome to the Castle!

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The Dacre Room

This is the Dacre Room, where my classes on the WTO are held. It used to be the chapel for the Castle.
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Another view of the castle from the courtyard

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Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Teaching at the Herstmnceux Castle

After more than 20 hours of travelling, I finally arrived at the HerstMonceux Castle on May 26th to start my teaching at the International Study Centre (ISC) of Queen's University (Canada).

Here's a bit of the history of the Castle from ISC's website:

The rich history that surrounds Herstmonceux Castle and the impressive structure of the Castle itself offer special appeal for students participating in ISC programs. In fact, the area shows evidence of prehistoric activity dating back as far as the Paleolithic period, over 20,000 years ago.

Herstmonceux’s Written History
The Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066, occurred just a few kilometres from the Saxon village of Herste and changed the course of world history. The first written evidence of the existence of the Herste settlement appears in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book which reports that one of William’s closest supporters granted tenancy of the manor at Herste to a man named ‘Wilbert’.

The Herstmonceux Name
By the end of the twelfth century, the family at the manor house at Herste had considerable status. Written accounts mention a lady called Idonea de Herste, who married a Norman nobleman named Ingelram de Monceux. Around this time, the manor began to be called the “Herste of the Monceux”, a name that eventually became Herstmonceux (pronounced Herst-mon-soo).

Herstmonceux Castle Estate
A descendant of the Monceuxes, Roger Fiennes, was ultimately responsible for the construction of Herstmonceux Castle in the County of Sussex. Sir Roger was appointed Treasurer of the Household of Henry VI, and needed a house fitting a man of his position, so construction of the castle on the site of the old manor house began in 1441. Today it is the oldest brick building of any note still standing in England. The castle was built of brick, a highly unusual material for the time in Britain, and the builders of Herstmonceux Castle concentrated more on grandeur and comfort than on defence to produce a truly magnificent estate. The property passed through the hands of a number of private owners until it was sold in 1946 to the British Admiralty, which bought the estate for the Royal Greenwich Observatory. The site served as an important scientific institution for over 40 years. The estate still provides housing for the Newton Telescope and the Equatorial Telescope Buildings, which have been converted to an interactive science centre for schoolchildren.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Periodicals in China

I am in Beijing at the moment, where the International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP) is holding its 36th World Magazine Conference. One can't help wondering the connection between this "timely" conference and the WTO complaint against China on trading rights and distribution services for foreign periodicals.

In a speech by Director-General Liu of the General Administration of Press and Publication, he stressed that both local and foreign media enjoy "equal protection in China" so long as they carry out "lawful businesses".

Sunday, 13 May 2007

World Bank project on Aus-China FTA 中国和澳洲自贸区中的服务贸易问题

I've recently been appointed by the World Bank as an International Consultant to conduct research on trade in services issues in the proposed Australia-China FTA. I would appreciate any inputs or stories relating to the topic, especially those on China's export interest in services in Australia.

最近,笔者被世界银行聘为国际顾问,就中国和澳洲自贸区中的服务贸易问题(特别是中国在澳洲的服务贸易出口利益问题)进行研究。如您有关于此问题的高见或亲身经历,欢迎同我联系。

Thursday, 10 May 2007

My Paper Makes SSRN Top Ten List

I just received a notice from the SSRN today announcing that my paper
"China's Participation in the WTO: A Lawyer's Perspective" was
recently listed on SSRN's Top Ten download list for "Emerging
Markets: Economics". I checked the SSRN website and found that my
paper was listed as the 7th most downloaded paper for Journal of
Emerging Markets: Economics for the period from March 11, 2007 to May
10, 2007. This is not bad for a paper that is yet to be published in
paper format (it is forthcoming in the Singapore Year Book of
International Law http://law.nus.edu.sg/sybil/).

More details on the ranking can be found at
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/topten/topTenResults.cfm?groupingId=273098&netorjrnl=jrnl.

The paper is at http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=958877.

Hope more people will find my article interesting!

Friday, 4 May 2007

Academy of International Trade Law 2007

I taught at the Academy of International Trade Law in the summer of 2006. It is a wonderful program hosted by the Institute of European Studies of Macau. Last year I taught the module on Dispute Settlement, which is originally scheduled to be taught by Prof. Joseph Weiler from New York University School of Law. When he was unable to come to Macau due to personal reasons, I was recommended to teach the module instead.

This year, I will continue teaching in the course. Students from law schools across the world are welcome to apply. If you are interested, you can find more details about the course and how to apply here.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Conference on “Trade, WTO and Sustainable Development: A Cause for Concern?”

From April 23 to 24, I went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Conference on "Trade, WTO and Sustainable Development: A Cause for Concern?", organized by International Islamic University Malaysia, Southeast Asian Council for Food Security and Fair Trade, Education and Research Association of Consumers Malaysia, Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations and United Nations Development Program (UNDP). At the conference, I presented a paper on " Winning a WTO Case based on non-WTO Law: Illusion or Reality?". Further information about the conference can be found at here.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

The Iron Lady spoke

In her recent comment on the TRIPS case by US against China, the Iron Lady of China, Vice Premier Wu Yi, reportedly said the following:

"The United States Trade Representative, the USTR, has totally ignored the massive strides China has made," Wu told an intellectual property forum in Beijing.

The US action "flies in the face of the agreement between the two countries' leaders to propose dialogue as a way of settling disputes," Wu said, adding that never before had a WTO member simultaneously mounted two cases against another country.

"This will have an utterly negative impact and will inevitably badly damage bilateral intellectual property cooperation," she said, while also warning it would "harm" cooperation over market access issues.

"The Chinese government is extremely dissatisfied about this, but we will proactively respond according to the related WTO rules and see it through to the end," Wu said.

Friday, 20 April 2007

China to hold Auto Parts Expo

One wonders what is the connection of this expo with the ongoing WTO
dispute on auto parts.

首届中国国际汽车零部件博览会即将在北京举行

2007-04-19 17:08 文章来源:商务部新闻办公室
文章类型:原创 内容分类:新闻

  为促进汽车产业国际交流与合作,商务部决定举办中国国际汽车零部件博览会,首届博览会定于2007年11月29日-12月1日在北京中国国际展览中心举行。

  博览会是经中国政府批准的国家级、国际性汽车零部件专业展会,受到中外汽车业界的广泛关注和高度重视。目前,德国联邦采购物流协会、美国汽车工业行动集团、法国汽车零部件协会、中国汽车工业协会、博世、电装、通用、丰田、大众、上汽、一汽、奇瑞、中国汽车报等47家中外汽车行业协会、企业集团和新闻媒体已确认作为博览会的协办单位或支持单位,并全面参与博览会的各项活动。

  博览会面向全球汽车零部件配套市场和售后服务市场,旨在搭建集展示、交易、技术交流、合资合作、智力引进、知识产权保护于一体的综合平台。展示产品以汽车零部件(不含摩托车零部件)为主,配合少量民族汽车品牌整车展示。通过共同努力,尽快将博览会打造成受国内外汽车业界和新闻媒体欢迎的汽车零部件领域专业、知名、权威的国际展会。

  博览会期间将举办系列高峰论坛和专业论坛,还将举行中华汽配网北美买家专场采购会和第四届中国百佳汽车零部件供应商颁奖典礼等活动。同时,博览会将设立保护知识产权办公室,以增强知识产权保护意识,维护参展企业的合法权益。

  博览会将发布中国汽车零部件企业目录,目录内企业方有资格参展。为保证国内参展企业的质量和档次、避免知识产权侵权等纠纷的发生,保证展会的举办效果,博览会将对参展企业设定一定的资质条件,未列入目录内的企业将不能参展。

  中国国际汽车零部件博览会的举办,是推动我国汽车零部件产业全面参与国际竞争与合作,提高我国汽车工业总体水平和国际竞争能力,实现汽车工业从大国向强国转变的重要举措,将对增强我国汽车企业自主创新能力、提高汽车产业国际竞争力、转变我国外贸增长方式发挥重要作用。

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Blame Canada!

There's an interesting post about the recent case by the US against China at the Danwei Blog. The original is here.

Blame Canada!
Posted by Maya Alexandri, April 18, 2007 04:08 PM


Yesterday, the State Council News Office held a press conference at which the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) news spokesperson Wang Ziqiang (王自强) responded to the WTO cases that the United States filed last week. China's position is both predictably general and surprisingly specific.

Predictably, counterfeiting is a world-wide problem that can't be eradicated in a short period of time. While China doesn't deny that its shops are teeming with counterfeit products, that's no reason for the WTO cases. Moreover, the WTO cases will strain Sino-US cooperative anti-counterfeiting efforts.

Surprisingly, in filing the WTO cases, the US is picking on China instead of focusing on the country with "the world's most serious piracy problem": Canada. Citing an International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) filing with the USTR, Wang Ziqiang explained that the United States' IP-related per capita losses in Canada were $16.78, compared with a staggeringly low per capita loss of $1.68 in China.

That per capita losses in Canada are greater than in China is almost inevitable: any number divided by 32 million will be larger than if it's divided by 1.3 billion. Curious about why the IIPA would bother with such a useless calculation, your correspondent checked the filing at issue. In fact, the numbers cited by the IIPA reflect industry-by-industry financial losses and the estimated levels of piracy. Regarding business software, for example, IIPA reports that 64% of business software in Canada is pirated, causing losses of $551 million. This compares to an 82% piracy rate in China, corresponding to losses of $1.9 billion.

Plainly, IIPA's numbers show that China, not Canada, is the worse offender. China, apparently, took the initiative to divide the loss figures by each country's respective population size to come up with a statistic that suggests otherwise.

Monday, 9 April 2007

US v. China, Rounds 4&5

My two cents on the two cases:

1st case: According to TRIPS Article 61, Members must provide remedies for IPR violation, which shall include imprisonment and/or monetary fines sufficient to provide a deterrent,
but this is only supposed to be "consistent with the level of penalties applied for crimes of a corresponding gravity". The question is what are "crimes of a corresponding gravity" with being caught with 500 CDs in hand. This is where the US will have to come up with some
really good argument.

2nd case: With regard to the importation of books, newspapers, periodicals, electronic publications and audio and video products, China has not reserved them for state trading. Thus the US should have a case. China can, however, raise a defense for the protection of the public morals under GATT Art. XX, but the big question will be whether the measures China take are "necessary" to achieve such goal. This will drag the WTO into sensitive political issues and I think WTO probably will be very cautious here.

To summarize, if the US win both cases, people in China might not be able to buy a pirated copy of the "Red Dragon" off the street corner 10 days after its release, but they will instead be able to go into the cinema to watch " Red Corner" 10 years after it was released.

Another two cases against China? WSJ

U.S. Piracy Case May Raise
Trade Tensions With China
By NEIL KING JR.
April 7, 2007; Page A3

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is preparing to take its
longstanding spat with China over pirated movies, music and books to
the World Trade Organization, a move that could notch up trade
tensions between the two countries.

The administration this coming week will file twin cases challenging
China's lax enforcement of its own antipiracy laws as well as its
tight restrictions on the distribution of foreign movies, music and
printed material. The antipiracy complaints will mark the culmination
of several years of work within the administration to build a case
against China over alleged intellectual-property abuses, which hit
U.S. exports ranging from auto parts to scientific journals.


While supported by the U.S. movie and music businesses, the impending
complaints have stirred unease among executives of other U.S.
industries, including drug companies and high-tech manufacturers. Many
fear that a clash with China over piracy could undermine the
increasing cooperation they have won over the past year with local
Chinese officials on combating the problem.

Industry groups that aren't expected to support the case include the
Business Software Alliance, whose members include Microsoft Corp. and
Apple Inc., and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of
America, the drug industry's main trade group. Both sectors have made
their own market-access and antipiracy advances and don't want to see
that work disturbed, administration and industry officials said.

The cases will add to a list of U.S. trade actions against China in
recent months. The administration in February filed a WTO case
alleging that Beijing doled out unfair subsidies to a range of Chinese
industries, while last month the Commerce Department broke decades of
precedent by opening the way for U.S. companies to seek higher tariffs
on some Chinese paper imports found to have benefited from government
subsidies.

The first case being filed this coming week will make a number of
specific complaints against China's enforcement of its own piracy
laws. Current Chinese law says that in the case of counterfeit CDs,
for instance, one must be caught with at least 500 to be charged with
a crime. The U.S. will argue that there should be no such threshold.

The case will also argue that it should be illegal to either
distribute or produce counterfeit goods. Chinese law requires one to
be caught doing both before being charged.

"This case is going to be very technical, very targeted and very
specific," said one industry official with knowledge of the
administration's case.

The other complaint will target what the U.S. alleges to be overly
restrictive rules on the distribution of foreign CDs, DVDs, books and
other media products. The case won't seek to overturn the limit placed
by Beijing on foreign films that are allowed to show in Chinese
theaters, which is now set at 20 films a year.

The cases come as China has taken a number of moves recently to crack
down on piracy, increasing penalties and lowering the thresholds for
what constitutes a criminal act. Chinese provincial authorities have
worked alongside U.S. industries to carry out a series of raids
against factories and warehouses trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Cambridge book

Cambridge has published a new book on "The WTO in the Twenty-first Century: Dispute Settlement, Negotiations, and Regionalism in Asia". I contributed the 19th Chapter on "Reflections on the relationship between WTO negotiations and dispute settlement: lessons from the GATS". More details on the book is available from here.

APEC Report: another new publication

The APEC has just published a report on "The New International Architecture in Trade and Investment – Current Status and Implications". I contributed by writing the economy paper for China as well as preparing the synthesis report.

This book is part of the outputs for the project on "Capacity Building for the New International Architecture in Trade and Investment" by the APEC Human Resources Development Working Group. For more details, please check here. The whole report is available for download at here.

Monday, 19 March 2007

The ABC of Aircraft Manufacturing: Airbus v. Boeing v. ChinaAero?

China kicks off plan to develop big aircraft:

温家宝主持常务会批准大型飞机研制重大专项立项


2007-03-19 17:23 文章来源:中国政府网
文章类型:转载 内容分类:新闻

温家宝主持召开国务院常务会议
原则批准大型飞机研制重大科技专项正式立项
同意组建大型客机股份公司

国务院总理温家宝2月26日主持召开国务院常务会议,听取大型飞机重大专项领导小组关于大型飞机方案论证工作汇报,原则批准大型飞机研制重大科技专项正式立项,同意组建大型客机股份公司,尽快开展工作。

为实施《国家中长期科学和技术发展规划纲要》确定的重大科技专项,国务院成立了大型飞机重大专项领导小组,组织了专家论证委员会独立开展论证,经过6个月的工作,形成了《大型飞机方案论证报告》。

国务院常务会议认为,研制大型飞机是党中央、国务院作出的重大战略决策,也是全国人民多年的愿望。我国航空工业经过50多年的发展,已经具
备发展大型飞机的技术和物质基础。自主研制大型飞机,发展有市场竞争力的航空产业,对于转变经济增长方式、带动科学技术发展、增强国家综合实力和国际竞争
力,加快现代化步伐,具有重大意义。

会议指出,实施研制大型飞机的重大科技专项,是一项复杂的系统工程。必须充分认识这项任务的艰巨性,充分估计可能遇到的困难和风险,以百折
不挠的决心和意志,坚持不懈地努力,完成这一光荣的历史使命。一要加强组织领导,集中力量,合力攻关。各方面要牢固树立全局观念,大力协同、密切配合,各
种资源统筹安排、合理整合。二要坚持高标准、高水平、高质量。在研制、生产和服务的全过程确保飞机的安全性和经济性,提高产品的国际竞争力。三要坚持以我
为主,积极开展国际合作。通过自主创新、集成创新和引进消化吸收再创新,突破关键技术。四要统筹协调大型客机与大型运输机的研制。做到分工合作,成果共
享,避免重复建设,提高投资效益。五要坚持体制机制创新。遵循科学规律和经济规律,面向国内外市场,引入竞争机制,创新管理经营模式。六要充分利用我国航
空工业的现有基础。调动地方、企业的积极性,特别要发挥科研人员的积极性,培养、吸引、凝聚大批优秀科技人才,为大型飞机研制建功立业。

Protectionism at new height

On 11 May 2006, the Commission adopted a Decision requiring Member States to ensure that, from 11 March 2007, cigarette lighters are child-resistant when placed on the EU market. The Decision also prohibits the placing on the market of lighters which resemble objects that are particularly attractive to children; so-called Novelty Lighters. Certain lighters, such as luxury lighters, are excluded from the scope of the Decision based on a number of technical criteria, but must anyway comply with the general safety requirements for these products. In short this means that from 11 March 2007:

Cigarette lighters placed on the EU market must be child resistant
(With the exception of lighters which are sold with a 2 year written guarantee, are refillable and can be repaired by a European-based after-sales service)

Novelty lighters can no longer be placed on the market
(For a definition of novelty lighter, please see the Guidelines)

All lighters must be safe
(This has already been the case since 1992. Lighters which comply with all requirements of ISO9994 are presumed to be safe)

More info is available here.

The Chinese cigarette lighter manufactures are the ones being hit most.

欧盟CR大棒直落 打火机企业奋起自救
2007-03-19 15:09  文章来源:国际商报
文章类型:原创  内容分类:新闻

  ■新闻提示:欧盟CR(即儿童安全)法案3月11日起正式实施,从即日起,中国出口欧盟市场的一次性打火机必须加装防儿童开启装置,所有的新奇打火机将被禁止进入欧盟市场。由于CR检测费用高,检测周期长,而且CR专利多掌握在欧盟和美国的生产商中,中国打火机企业因此面临前所未有的严峻考验。为应对国外技术壁垒,目前国内一些企业正积极开发具有自主知识产权的专利产品,并寻找国内外市场新的增长点。

  记者几个月前采访温州东方轻工实业有限公司总经理李中坚时,他正在为公司自主研发的一款带CR装置打火机通过省级鉴定而奔忙,这位在业界颇有名气的企业老总对新研发产品的自信和应对欧盟CR技术壁垒的从容,给记者留下了深刻的印象。3月11日欧盟正式实施CR法案当天,当记者再次采访到他时,他的自信中又传递出很多新的内容:"去年我们已开发出了8款具有自主知识产权的带CR装置的打火机。目前除了欧盟,我们的产品已经更多地销往对打火机质量要求更高的日本以及东南亚地区。另外,在开拓国内市场方面已经迈出了新的步伐。"

  CR标准有失公允国内企业经受考验

  按照欧盟CR法案规定,自今年3月之后,禁止不符合CR标准的打火机及新奇打火机进入欧盟市场。而打火机要通过CR标准,必须进入西方国家的专门实验室检测。

  事实上,欧盟CR法案的影响早就显现了。温州作为我国打火机生产和出口基地,年产金属外壳打火机6亿多只,销量占世界市场份额的80%以上。随着CR标准实施的临近,从去年下半年开始,温州打火机企业接到的欧盟订单就骤然下降了30%左右。

  温州的打火机企业认为,欧盟实施的CR标准严重有失公允。因为目前欧盟CR标准还缺乏可操作的实施措施,用温州烟具协会会长周大虎的话说:"他们如何执行CR,温州打火机要怎么做?连欧盟官员自己也回答不上来"。

  首先,欧盟规定CR装置必须经国际公认的资质机构认证合格后,才能进入欧洲市场,但目前欧盟自己却没有一家CR测试机构,而我国建立的CR实验室又没有得到欧盟的承认,这让众多的中国打火机企业无所适从。其次,每种打火机检测费用为2万美元、检测时间为3至6个月,仅温州就有上万种打火机,这会使企业的生产和经营受到很大影响。另外,打火机"至少能安全使用5年"这一要求,不仅我国企业难以达到,就连有着打火机王国之称的日本企业生产的电子打火装置终极寿命也不过为4万次左右。由此不难看出,欧盟实施CR标准的目的就是要把中国打火机堵在欧洲市场门外。

  自主开发专利产品国内企业奋起自救

  记者了解到,为了不放弃欧盟市场,在与欧盟据理力争的同时,我国一些有实力的打火机企业已经开始积极研发安全锁,以应对欧盟的CR新规。李中坚告诉记者,仅去年一年东方轻工实业就研制出了8款具有自主知识产权的带CR装置的打火机。

  应该说,在目前CR专利多掌握在欧盟和美国的生产商中的情况下,我国企业开发新的安全锁是十分困难的,特别是存在专利障碍。由于打火机装置相对简单,很容易雷同,一旦我国的安全锁与欧盟企业研发的安全锁有80%的相似度,就会面临诉讼的威胁。但李中坚没有被困难所吓倒,他不惜投入巨资,巧妙绕开欧美专利,坚持自主开发带CR装置产品。据悉,目前上述8款新产品均已申请国家专利,有两款正在申请国际专利。鉴于欧盟尚无检测中心,但承认通过美国检测中心的检测结果,该公司已将两款产品报至美国相关检测中心。另据透露,目前公司还有一款针对欧盟CR标准结构优化的打火机正在设计和研制中。

  记者还从温州检验检疫局了解到,近期,该局成立的打火机实验室已顺利通过了由商务部和国家质检总局组织的专家组预评审,这也是为迎接欧盟官员再次来温州考核打火机实验室。据悉,去年10月欧委会官员专程来温检验检疫局考察时,根据中欧双方磋商结果,欧委会将于今年三四月份委派欧盟认可组织 (EA)再次对我打火机实验室进行实地考核,以认定中国出口打火机的指定检测机构。

  但有专家分析,即使欧盟真的能承认中国的实验室,按照考察、报告等办事程序,得到欧委会批准,最快也要半年以上。

  积极寻求新出路多元开拓国内外市场

  面对欧盟不断提高的技术壁垒,我国众多的打火机企业也在积极寻求新的发展和出路,很多出口企业已经将目光转向了美国、中东、俄罗斯、日本等市场。同时,有更多的企业将目光瞄向了国内市场。

  据温州日丰打火机公司董事长黄发静介绍,该公司从去年5月份开始,就将出口的重点转向美国市场,目前出口美国的打火机已占该公司出口总量的 40%左右。另外,该公司还采取了国内国外市场并重的举措,近日,黄发静就接待了多位来自新疆等地的打火机经销商,洽谈打火机的国内销售事宜。

  东方轻工也在积极调整出口经营策略,除了欧美市场外,公司还加大了对日本及东南亚市场的开拓,目前来自这些地区的订单在不断增多。在拓展国内市场上公司更是独辟蹊径,目前公司积极在国内各大中城市和风景名胜区设立销售专柜,在一些高速公路的服务区开辟窗口,并建立售后服务网络。公司还探索与国内一些大的礼品公司联络,开发出适合礼品包装的打火机产品。据介绍,今年公司招聘新员工时,还特别设立了负责国内品牌开发和策划等岗位。



Saturday, 17 March 2007

What's in a name?

WTO denies changing Taiwan's official title

03/14/2007  (Taiwan News)

The World Trade Organization reiterated Monday that it only uses nomenclature that was agreed upon when Taiwan entered the organization in 2001 and that it will continue to do so, refuting allegations that under Chinese pressure, the organization changed Taiwan's official title in a recent international meeting.

According to news reports from Taipei, Taiwan's title was changed to "Taiwan Province of China" in all documents circulated at a global fisheries subsidies meeting held in Geneva March 1-2 under the auspices of the WTO and the United Nations Environment Programme.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately protested Beijing's latest "political plot" to downgrade Taiwan's international status and also called for the WTO to show respect for the rights and interests of every member country of the WTO.

Asked to comment on the controversy, WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell said the complaints arising over the use of nomenclature are based on "a lack of understanding of the facts," as the meeting in question was not a WTO event.

The two-day seminar on "Disciplining Fisheries Subsidies" was co-hosted by the UNEP and the world conservation group WWF, with fishery experts and officials of WTO member states participating.

"The WTO always uses the nomenclature which was agreed upon when Chinese Taipei acceded in 2001, and it will continue to do so," Rockwell stressed.

Taiwan's formal title in the WTO is "the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu," also referred to as "Chinese Taipei."

Zero tariff to Taiwanese products in violation of WTO rules

On March 16th, China announced that another 11 vegetables and 8 fishery products from Taiwan will be granted zero tariff when imported into China. I have pointed out two years ago in an interview with Asia Times that such zero tariff violates the MFN rule of the WTO. No WTO Member, however, seemed to have enough interests in these products to bring the issue up in the WTO. The new list includes shrimp, which is a major export items for several countries in Asia. There might be some complaints from them this time.


Time for China to adopt Agressive Legalism?

At the press conference of the 5th session of the 10th NPC on March 12th, Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai indicated that China would not hesitate to take cases to the WTO if bilateral consultations does not work out. Does this mean that China has finally decided to adopt the "Aggressive Legalism" strategy?


Wednesday, 14 March 2007

FY2006 Grant for Japan-related Research Projects from The Sumitomo Foundation

My project on "Choice of policy tools in dealing with Sino-Japan trade disputes: A critical study on the practices of China and Japan" has been awarded the FY2006 Grant for Japan-related Research Projects from The Sumitomo Foundation. In this year, 50 grants were selected from among 290 applications made, and mine is one of the only three projects on law.

Free Trade Agreements: Where Is the World Heading?

I went to Gold Coast, Australia from March 8th to 11th for the conference on "Free Trade Agreements: Where Is the World Heading?", an International and Interdisciplinary Conference Hosted by The Faculty of Law of Bond University and Tim Fischer Centre for Global Trade and Finance. At the conference, I presented a paper on "The RTA Strategy of China: A Critical Visit".