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China vows to help WTO on piracy

A stall selling fake shoes in Beijing, file image
Beijing "turned a blind eye" to fake goods

China has promised to co-operate in the global fight against counterfeit goods, in response to a highly critical ruling from the World Trade Organization.

The commerce ministry said it would "continue to promote international exchanges" on intellectual property rights, but gave no firm details.

In a US-backed case, the WTO ruled on Monday that Beijing ignored piracy of DVDs and its customs policies were lax.

US companies say Chinese piracy costs them billions of dollars every year.

In its ruling, the WTO largely supported the US claims against China and found Beijing had breached trade rules.

The WTO was particularly critical of Chinese customs for allowing seized goods to be reintroduced into the market.

And it said Beijing had turned a blind eye to piracy of DVDs and CDs.

It recommended that China "bring the copyright law and the customs measures into conformity with its obligations".

'Regret'

But the WTO did not support the US allegation that the Chinese authorities allow counterfeiters of medicines and designer clothes to escape prosecution by using too high a threshold of proof.

In response, China's commerce ministry spokesman Yao Jian said: "On customs policies and copyright protection law, [the WTO] did not support China's stance. The Chinese side expresses its regret.

"As we continually strengthen domestic intellectual property rights, we will continue to promote international exchanges and co-operation on IPR and promote the healthy development of global trade relations."

The US has repeatedly accused China being a safe haven for product piracy, and some analysts believe the WTO decision takes Washington a step closer to seeking compensation for lost sales revenues caused by counterfeiting.

Europe has also had run-ins with Beijing on the issue.

Last year, the European Commission estimated that 60% of all counterfeit goods coming into Europe had originated in China.

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