August 17, 2009 / 5:04 AM / 10 years ago

China to appeal WTO ruling on entertainment imports

BEIJING, Aug 17 (Reuters) - China said on Monday it will challenge a World Trade Organisation ruling against its restrictions on imported films, books and audio-visual products, continuing its sparring with Washington over trade access.

Beijing said last week it may appeal against the WTO panel’s ruling, which upheld key parts of a U.S. complaint about China’s controls on cultural products, which Washington says hurt publishers, Hollywood and entertainment multinationals. [ID:nSP240395]

Now a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has said that appeal will certainly go ahead.

“We think it was improper for the WTO not to reject the U.S. request,” the spokesman, Yao Jian, told a news conference in Beijing. “Based on the WTO schedule, we are preparing the documents necessary to lodge an appeal.”

Yao did not give any other details of China’s appeal.

The continued dispute will add to the trade friction pitting Beijing against Washington.

President Barack Obama must decide by Sept. 17 whether to restrict imports of car and light truck tyres from China in a case that could unleash a flood of requests from other industries if he gives the nod. [ID:nN11536728]

The U.S. trade deficit with China totalled $103 billion in the first half of 2009, down 13 percent from last year but still a source of tension between the two.

The WTO panel said last week that China’s import and distribution regime for books and films breaks international trade rules, as well as the terms of China’s entry to the WTO in 2001, and should be revised. [ID:nLC19196]

The ruling did not reject the import quota of 20 foreign films per year that goes through China Film, a state company, and it accepted China’s right to keep out foreign films and publications if it finds them objectionable.

But it said “China Film can no longer be the monopoly importer”, which would create other possible film import channels into China, a U.S. official said.

Reporting by Langi Chiang and Alan Wheatley; Writing by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills

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