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WTO rules China must open markets

  • Story Highlights
  • China violates free-trade rules by impeding direct access to markets, WTO says
  • China rejects charges
  • "This decision promises to level the playing field," U.S. trade representative says
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(CNN) -- The United States hailed a World Trade Organization ruling to open Chinese markets and ease controls on the import of U.S. films, DVDs, music downloads and books.

U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk, shown, says WTO's decision will "help pave the way toward more open trade."

U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk, shown, says WTO's decision will "help pave the way toward more open trade."

"Today, a WTO panel handed a significant victory to America's creative industries," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday. "These findings are an important step toward ensuring market access for legitimate U.S. products in the Chinese market, as well as ensuring market access for U.S. exporters and distributors of those products."

In its ruling, the WTO said China violates free-trade rules by requiring importers to channel media products such as movies, books and music through state-owned companies, rather than giving them direct access to Chinese markets.

China denied the charges in the ruling.

"The country has always fulfilled its obligations set by WTO on issues related to publication products market entrance permission," Yao Jian, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce, said Thursday. "China will carefully evaluate the decision. ... Possibilities for China to issue an appeal on its concerned points cannot be ruled out."

The U.S. trade representative's office said the ruling could put an end to China's discriminatory trade practices.

"This decision promises to level the playing field for American companies working to distribute high-quality entertainment products in China, so that legitimate American products can get to market and beat out the pirates," Kirk said. "To me, that is a clear win. We believe that this report will help pave the way toward more open trade between China and America."

In recent years, U.S. officials have pressed Chinese officials for help in controlling the counterfeiting of U.S. products and the illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted U.S. products, including movies, music and software. Counterfeit products are estimated to cost U.S. companies billions of dollars in lost revenue.

Though senior U.S. law enforcement officials have expressed optimism, China remains a haven for pirated U.S. products.

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