US wins WTO case against China's import curbs on movies, music and books

The United States has won a case against China's restrictions on import of movies, music and books from foreign countries. The decision came on an appeal by China against a WTO ruling against import monopolies on books, films and audio entertainment.

China had insisted that the US exporters use state channels to distribute the copyrighted products in the country, saying that these exports are harming the country's culture and that the state should have the right to control imports that might harm public morals.

An appellate body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has now ruled that forcing foreign suppliers to distribute such products through state-owned companies is inconsistent with Beijing's obligations with the WTO and that it amounted to obstructing trade.

"China believes that cultural goods combine commercial and cultural value, and should be managed in a different way than other products," China had said in its appeal.
"The appellate body's findings are key to ensuring full market access in China for legitimate, high-quality entertainment products and the exporters and distributors of those products," US trade representative Ron Kirk said.

"We expect China to respond promptly to these findings and bring its measures into compliance," Kirk added.

The WTO ruling would allow US companies to export commercial films, music and other sound recordings as also books and other reading material to China.