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China settles WTO dispute, releases foreign financial news from Xinhua's control

Official news: Chinese journalists from Xinhua News Agency work at their office in Beijing.Photo: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

China has agreed to relax controls on financial news providers in an out-of-court settlement of a dispute with the United States, the European Union and Canada.

The deal ends Chinese state news agency Xinhua's role as a regulator and the requirement for foreign suppliers of financial information to act through an agent, and provides protection for confidential business information.

Calling it a "landmark agreement," Brussels said companies such as Thomson Reuters Corp, Bloomberg LP and Dow Jones & Co would benefit from better conditions for the sale of financial information to banks, government agencies and other customers in China, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The Chinese mission confirmed that a settlement was signed Thursday in Geneva.

Some details from the AP report: [Link]

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said China's commitment to establishing an independent regulator in the sector was especially important.

The US and EU filed a World Trade Organization case against China in March demanding that it loosen restraints on foreign companies vying for a greater slice of the country's lucrative market for financial information. Canada made its complaint shortly after.

They said China violated its free-trade pledges by imposing rules two years ago that boost its Xinhua News Agency at the expense of foreign financial information providers by making Xinhua both a competitor and regulator to its rivals.

"I am very pleased we have been able to sign an agreement with China today to allow financial information suppliers like Bloomberg, Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters to operate in China free of unfair restrictions that threatened to place them at a serious competitive disadvantage," Schwab said. "The independence of the regulator is critical to ensuring a legal environment that is free of damaging potential conflicts of interest."

Date posted: November 15, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 415