U.S., China Sign Pact on Trade Accord Aims to Protect Copyrights, Trademarks
Compiled From News Services, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
The United States and China signed an agreement Sunday that solves a long-running dispute over how to protect intellectual property like movies, compact discs and computer software.
The countries avoided a trade war by reaching the agreement, and announced a plan to make life in China harder for pirates and easier for American investors.
The agreement includes an intensified six-month crackdown on copyright violators beginning Wednesday, a series of task forces to collect evidence, expanded search-and-destroy powers for Chinese customs officers and the immediate removal of quotas on the imports of American movies.
The success of the agreement depends on its enforcement by Chinese authorities, who so far have been inconsistent when it comes to Chinese copyright and trademark laws.
"There is no question that the key to this agreement will be implementation," Charlene Barshefsky, the deputy U.S. trade representative, said at a news conference late Sunday night.
Chinese officials portrayed the agreement as an affirmation of their own commitment to protecting the rights of creative industries.
The talks ended 12 days after U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor announced that trade sanctions on more than $1 billion of Chinese goods would begin Sunday if no accord were reached.
Barshefsky, Kantor's deputy, said Sunday that the pact meant both increased access to China for American makers of films and music and improved enforcement against those who copied and sold such products illegally.
If neither side got all it wanted in the negotiations, the Chinese had more at stake. Out of $45 billion in goods traded between China and the United States last year, $37 billion were exports from China to the United States.
Winning U.S. approval on intellectual property protection also is an important step toward gaining membership in the World Trade Organization, which Chinese officials consider an essential element of modernizing their economy.
Barshefsky said the United States was ready to assist China in its application to the trade body, but she denied that there was any intention to support China's application in exchange for concessions in the enforcement agreement.
She said all quotas would be lifted - "starting now, today" - and added that the Chinese also had agreed to allow the establishment of joint ventures for audio and video production, first in the large cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou and expanding to a total of 13 cities by 2000.
"Legitimate U.S. products will be able to replace pirated goods," Barshefsky said. …