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Trading with China – Challenges for the EU

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About this Event

06 Jul 2010 @ 12:45

About the Event:

The protection of intellectual property is an important priority for the EU in its relationship with China, and at times represents a source of tension between the partners. Dr. Balas noted that the Chinese government has a larger role than the EU would necessarily welcome, and this also applies to the protection of intellectual property right, but he also made the point that it is increasingly in China’s interest to strengthen such protection, as it becomes a major source of IP itself.

As the world moves towards a knowledge-based economy, IP protection is extremely important. A shift has taken place in many countries, China being an example, with an emphasis on labour intensive industries giving way to a focus on products with intellectual content. The EU aspires to a system where intellectual content can be exported to China and the content protected. Trademark and copyright issues were the earliest IP problems in the EU-China trade relationship. In the more recent period, patent cases have increased in prominence, particularly in the IT sector where there has been use of technology without regard to patent. Compulsory licensing, despite its legality in international trade law, is another area where abuses take place in China, when proper procedures are not followed. Public procurement contracts and certification procedures often require detailed description of the content of the product and the EU does not see the logic of this requirement. Protected knowledge may be leaked in this way.

China has made progress, with a number of patent and copyright laws having been enacted. Enforcement has also improved, with a higher incidence of both court-cases and criminal sanctions. However, while large international companies are well equipped with the resources to protect their IP, European SMEs often do not have such resources, and the administrative requirements can also make it very difficult for foreign companies to defend their IP in front of Chinese courts. China remains the world’s largest source of counterfeit products, and the EU would like to see a greater level of effort on the ground. The EU2020 strategy underpins and supports the EU’s existing IP goals and calls for an economy based on a high level of creation, utilization, protection and administration of IP rights.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Balas took up his current position as Deputy Director-General in DG Trade in the European Commission in 2005. Before joining the European institutions, he was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Hungary to the World Trade Organisation.


Theme: Foreign Policy and ESDP 

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