Monday, March 03, 2008

Xinhua vs. the WTO

We have written intermittently about Xinhua's ongoing efforts to maintain monopoly rights in China in the distribution of financial information. When we last wrote about this almost a year ago, I wondered "My recollection is that last year this reached the level of a minor diplomatic spat. I wonder if this solves or it raises the issues all over again?" There are links in that piece will lead you back through the saga if you're interested.

Well, it's obviously not dead. Today's Financial Times reports that "The European Union and US are to launch formal proceedings at the World Trade Organisation over China’s attempt to put the financial information businesses of international news providers under the control of the local rival and regulator, Xinhua news agency". It goes on to note (the highlights are mine) "The move reflects confid­ence in Brussels and Washington that Beijing will find it hard to defend the rules, which prompted fierce complaints when announced and which Xinhua has so far refrained from enforcing against agencies including Reuters, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. The EU and US believe the regulations breach Beijing’s commitment to allowing foreign companies to supply financial information services in China under the terms of its 2001 accession to the WTO".

If Xinhua has indeed refrained from enforcing these rules, why all the fuss now. Surely not a need a in Brussels and Washington to flex their biceps and show how tough they are with China...on what is practically at the moment a non-issue.

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