EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson on Tuesday (Nov. 7) ruled out European action at the World Trade Organization against China over its failure to clamp down on rampant piracy.
His pledge contrasts with signals from Washington where speculation is mounting that the United States will file a WTO case against Beijing for failing to protect intellectual property.
But Mandelson said he had no intention of straining relations by suing China at the WTO. “I’m not looking for opportunities to take China to the WTO and I hope very much it won’t be necessary,” he said. “I think the quality of our relationship and our desire to find amicable solutions should make that unnecessary.”
U.S. music, movies and other copyright industry companies say they lost more than $2.6 billion in China last year because of pirates, who control 85 to 90% of the market. US Trade Representative (USTR) Susan Schwab last month said painful trade sanctions could be slapped on China imports if Beijing failed to comply with an adverse WTO ruling.
Speaking to University students in Beijing, Mandelson pleaded with China to do more to tackle rampant copying of CDs, DVDs, software and other goods. “Europe needs to see tougher action on counterfeiting in China, which is a ball and chain on EU competitiveness and a growing problem for China itself,” the EU trade czar said.
“Last month China overtook Germany to become the world’s fifth biggest filer for patents. So increasingly the Chinese government is seeing a joint interest in fighting this illegal activity – but we need to see more enforcement of the law.”
Mandelson was in Beijing to present the Commission’s new strategy for dealing with China, agreed by the EU executive last month. He argued that a resurgent China should to take up global responsibilities and fulfil its WTO obligations.
“Twenty years ago Europe traded almost nothing with China. Today China is Europe’s single biggest source of manufactured goods. By the end of this decade China will be the largest exporter in the world,” he said.
Chinese is currently the fourth biggest supplier to Europe of the pirated CDs, DVDs and cassettes — after Thailand, Malaysia and Pakistan — accounting for 8% of seizures. Despite a number of crackdowns by the Chinese government, counterfeit goods are still widely available in the country.