China blasts U.S. filings at WTO

EU declines to join challenge over piracy, counterfeiting

China was quick to denounce the U.S. decision to take to the World Trade Organization its complaints of widespread piracy and counterfeiting of U.S. goods (HR 4/11).

The Bush administration, under pressure to get tougher on trade, announced separate cases against China at the WTO over pirated copies of music and movies and for placing market-access barriers against U.S. companies offering legitimate products.

"China expressed great regret and strong dissatisfaction at the decision of the U.S. to file WTO cases against China over intellectual property rights and access to the Chinese publication market," China Commerce Ministry spokesman Wang Xinpei said in a statement on the ministry's Web site. "The Chinese government's attitude toward intellectual property rights protection has always been resolute and its achievements obvious to all," the statement said.

It said the action would "seriously damage the two countries' established cooperation and bring an unfavorable impact on bilateral trade."

Addressing the issue Thursday in Beijing, EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said the EU will not be joining any suit. "We do not, at this moment, think that it is time for the European Union to go to the WTO court," she said. "We will not join this complaint."

Reding said that while Europe faces similar problems with China over piracy, it will follow the complaint only as an observer.

"We agree with the substance that intellectual property rights have to be preserved and that there has to be a fair remuneration for those who have invested into research and development," she said.

The U.S. move came as congressional anger over last year's record $232 billion U.S. trade deficit with China hampered efforts to win renewal of trade promotion authority, which the White House needs to finish negotiations on the Doha round of world trade talks.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters this past week that the U.S. remains open to a negotiated settlement without going through the WTO, which could take 18 months or more, but added that inadequate intellectual property rights protection is costing U.S. firms and workers "billions of dollars each year."