July 14, 2010 / 10:50 AM / 9 years ago

China accepts WTO ruling on entertainment goods

* Agreement follows resolution of Google dispute

* WTO: China cannot use censorship to justify trade barrier

GENEVA, July 14 (Reuters) - China has agreed to open up its market for entertainment goods by March 19 next year in line with a World Trade Organization ruling, China and the United States said on Wednesday.

The United States had challenged China’s barriers to imports and distribution of books, music, films and other entertainment products, and China finally lost an appeal in the case at the WTO last December. [ID:nTOE5BL04R]

China had argued that entertainment goods should be handled differently from other imports because of their cultural impact, but the United States said that China was wrong to impose monopolies on imports that were authorised for sale or were anyway available through pirated copies.

The original WTO ruling, handed down in August last year, did not dispute the Chinese communist authorities’ right to censor material they found objectionable, but said they could not use censorship to justify illegal trade barriers.

The United States had argued that the Chinese controls robbed Hollywood and U.S. publishers and music producers of the chance to make substantial sales, leaving the market to pirates.

The agreement in the case follows a deal by Google (GOOG.O) ending its censorship dispute with China, though China and the United States are still divided over the internet. [ID:nN09111860]

A letter from the Chinese and U.S. ambassadors to the WTO, published on the WTO website on Wednesday, said the two countries had agreed that China should implement the WTO’s ruling within 14 months of its adoption by the global trade body on January 19 this year. (Reporting by Jonathan Lynn, editing by Tim Pearce)

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