DS: China — Measures Affecting Financial Information Services and Foreign Financial Information Suppliers

This summary has been prepared by the Secretariat under its own responsibility. The summary is for general information only and is not intended to affect the rights and obligations of Members.


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Summary of the dispute to date

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Complaint by the United States.

On 3 March 2008, the United States requested consultations with China with respect to certain measures pertaining to financial information services and service suppliers.

The United States makes claims against a number of Chinese measures affecting financial information services and foreign financial services suppliers in China. Such measures include no fewer than a dozen legal and administrative instruments which require foreign financial information suppliers to supply their services through an entity designated by Xinhua News Agency (“Xinhua”). Xinhua has designated only one such agent, China Economic Information Service (“CEIS”), one of Xinhua's commercial enterprises. According to the United States, China prohibits foreign financial information suppliers from directly soliciting subscriptions for their services, requiring that solicitation of subscriptions be done through the Xinhua-designated entity. China likewise prohibits users of financial information services in China from directly subscribing to services supplied by foreign suppliers. Furthermore, in order to renew their licenses, China requires foreign financial information suppliers to provide the Foreign Information Administration Center (“FIAC”), a regulatory body within the Xinhua framework, detailed and confidential information concerning their financial information services, their customers and their foreign suppliers. The United States contends that these and other requirements and restrictions accord less favourable treatment to foreign information services and service suppliers than that accorded to Chinese financial information services and service suppliers which are not affected by these requirements and restrictions.

The United States also claims that China is preventing foreign financial information service suppliers from establishing any commercial presence in China other than limited representative offices.

The United States considers that the measures at issue are inconsistent with various provisions of the GATS, the horizontal standstill commitment contained in China's schedule of obligations under the GATS, and China's Protocol of Accession.

On 14 March 2008, the European Communities requested to join the consultations. Subsequently, China informed the DSB that it had accepted the request of the European Communities to join the consultations.



On 4 December 2008, China and the United States informed the DSB that they had reached an agreement in relation to this dispute in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding.


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