China relents on financial news firms<br />

U.S., EU, Canada settle out of court in WTO dispute

BEIJING -- The U.S. Trade Representative said Thursday that it has resolved a World Trade Organization dispute with China over the treatment of foreign financial information providers such as Bloomberg and Dow Jones, paving the way for more direct sales of those services to Chinese customers.

The agreement covers not only the U.S., but also European and Canadian companies in the same field. Trade representatives from those countries, along with the USTR, filed a complaint with the WTO in March, alleging discriminatory practices by China that favored domestic firms, including Xinhua Financial News.

China had agreed to extend equal treatment to foreign financial information providers as part of its WTO accession agreement when it joined in December 2001. However, in September 2006, Xinhua News Agency issued new regulations requiring foreign financial information providers to use a single, Xinhua-designated agent, both to solicit contracts with, and to provide financial information to, their domestic and foreign clients in China.

During this same period, another Xinhua entity was launching a competing financial information service -- Xinhua 08, the USTR said in a fact sheet.

The parties signed the agreement Thursday in Geneva.

"I am very pleased we have been able to sign an agreement with China today to allow financial information suppliers like Bloomberg, Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters to operate in China free of unfair restrictions that threatened to place them at a serious competitive disadvantage," Ambassador Susan Schwab said in a statement.
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