World News Brief, Friday August 14

WTO ruling urges China to ease restrictions on DVD and internet sales; Lockerbie bomber may be freed; Taiwan troops help mudslide rescue; Russia commits military support to breakaway republic; and more

Top of the Agenda: WTO Ruling Against China

The United States won a case (Dow Jones) before the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China's restrictions on imports of U.S. DVDs, books, and music. The WTO ruled that China's policy allowing only state-run groups to import the good violated global trade agreements. It also urged China to allow foreign companies to begin selling music over the Internet (LAT).

China's double-digit economic growth in recent decades can partly be attributed to the country's exporting of manufactured goods. Imports, however, have grown more slowly, the New York Times notes. Chinese demand for imported books, movies, and other such content has largely been met by rampant piracy that allows Hollywood movies to be sold cheaply and within days of their release.

Chinese piracy of movies, movies, music, and software cost companies as much as $2.2 billion in 2006 sales (Bloomberg), according to an estimate by lobbyists representing Microsoft Corp., Walt Disney Co., and Vivendi SA.

China said it regrets the WTO's decision (Xinhua) and is considering appealing the ruling.

The WTO's 469-page report on the case is available here (PDF).

Forbes says it remains unclear how much the ruling will slow piracy in China, and says the decision could give China the opportunity to show its willingness to "play by international rules and protect intellectual property rights."

BusinessWeek says the ruling has implications for the U.S. auto industry in China as well.

Reuters says China has become enthusiastic about its WTO membership recently, despite this ruling against it.


PACIFIC RIM: Typhoon Rescue Effort

Taiwan's government is sending four thousand extra troops to assist in rescue efforts (Reuters) after Typhoon Morakot caused mudslides and at least 108 deaths. Morakot caused at least $225 million in agricultural damage, and nearly 30,000 homes remain without power. Some 750,000 homes are without water.



Lockerbie bomber may be freed.
India to create Environmental Protection Agency.
Russia pledges funding for Abkhazia defense.

This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on