Geneva, 13 November 2008
The EU and China (together with the United States and Canada) have today reached a landmark agreement on the treatment of financial information services in China. Financial information suppliers such as Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones will in future benefit from a new regulatory framework that will help to ensure a level playing field for all operators in the Chinese market. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed today in Geneva addresses the concerns that had led the European Commission to launch WTO consultations on this matter in March 2008. The changes are due to be put in place by 1 June 2009.
EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said: "Today's agreement ensures that investors and market operators will be able to receive comprehensive and objective financial information. This shows what can be achieved when interested parties cooperate in search of solutions."
The agreement settles a WTO dispute that the EU had launched in March 2008 together with the US, and which was joined a few months later by Canada. The EU and China held WTO consultations in April this year, and had since then been engaged in a process of negotiation to try to find an amicable solution. The EU objected to requirements by China for all foreign financial information suppliers to operate through a specific agent designated by the Chinese government. The only agent was China Economic Information Service (CEIS), an entity controlled by Xinhua News Agency, which was also in competition with foreign suppliers of financial information.
The Chinese government has agreed today to put a new regulatory framework in place by 1 June 2009. Responsibility will pass from Xinhua News Agency to a new, independent regulator and the requirement for foreign suppliers to operate through an agent will be removed. China has also committed to ensuring adequate protection for business confidential information, and confirmed that foreign financial information suppliers will face no obstacles regarding setting up commercial establishment in China.
The EU is particularly satisfied that dialogue and negotiation in the WTO framework have delivered what should be considered a very good outcome for financial information suppliers and for China. The supply of comprehensive financial information is vital for transparent, orderly and globally competitive financial markets.
EU-China trade has increased dramatically in recent years to over EUR 300 billion in 2007. In 2008 the EU and China launched a new strategic mechanism for driving trade and economic policy. The EU has benefited from the growth of the Chinese market and the EU is committed to open trading relations with China. However it pushes China hard to trade fairly, respect intellectual property rights and meet its WTO obligations.
For more information on this case please see the MEMO 08/707.
For more information on EU trade policy see http://ec.europa.eu/trade