The U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) has unveiled a series of agreements between the two countries which represent a strategy aimed at reducing China's crippling piracy levels.

The U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) has unveiled a series of agreements between the two countries which represent a strategy aimed at reducing China's crippling piracy levels.

The commission was established in 1983 as an intergovernmental forum for addressing trade and commercial piracy problems between the two countries.

Among its key new initiatives, the Chinese government has committed to a significant reduction of physical goods piracy through a nationwide campaign coordinated at the national, provincial and local level.

It has also agreed to toughen punishment of intellectual property right violations by criminally prosecuting those responsible for commercial piracy, both in physical and digital formats.

In addition, China pledged to amend its laws and to ratify modern international conventions so that sound recordings transmitted on the Internet are protected and that prompt and effective action can be taken provided against Internet pirates.

The agreements were reached during a meeting of the commission in Washington, D.C., and unveiled Wednesday at a joint news conference with U.S. and Chinese officials. The 70-member Chinese delegation was led by Vice Premier Wu Yi; the United States was represented by Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.

In a statement issued today, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) applauds China's piracy commitment. The "historic pledge," says the IFPI, "is a huge step forward in the fight against one of the highest rates of piracy in the world."

According to the trade body, China's recording industry is blighted by piracy levels upwards of 90%. Legitimate sales of sound recordings there stood at $110 million in 2002, against pirate sales estimated at a value of $533 million, it says.

Richard Denekamp, chairman of the Asia Pacific Board of IFPI, comments: "We are very hopeful that Wu Yi's latest announcement of this ground-breaking commitment to IP protection will result in a major improvement in China. We welcome this initiative on piracy and hope that additional market-opening initiatives will follow shortly."

While commending the Chinese government for its commitment, the RIAA and IFPI jointly called for Wu Yi to accomplish a reduction of piracy by 50% from its current levels by the end of the year.

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