The United States has formally lodged complaints at the World Trade Organisation against China over copyright piracy and restrictions on the sale of American films, music and books. Washington said US companies are losing billions of euros every year because of copied DVDs and counterfeited luxury goods.
US Trade representative Susan Schwab said: “We see specific, significant WTO related problems that bilateral dialogue simply has not been able to resolve. Current Chinese laws impede effective attacks on piracy and counterfeiting and legitimate audiovisual products and publications continue to face serious problems with market access.”
China is reckoned to be the worst offender. It is estimated that last year it cost US businesses 1.7 billion euros in trade losses through copyright piracy, followed by Russia at 1.6 billion. Then came Mexico (800 million euros) and Canada (400 million); they share common borders with the US, which is the biggest potential market for fake goods.
Now that the complaints have been made to the World Trade Organisation, Washington and Beijing have 60 days to try to resolve their differences in bilateral negotiations.
If they do not reach agreement, the US can demand WTO arbitration on whether the Chinese government is doing enough to stop the counterfeiters.