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.


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







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
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

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.