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Australia to join WTO probe against China

business Updated: Oct 08, 2007 09:47 IST

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Australia will take part in a WTO investigation, as a third party, into the complaints that China is failing to enforce intellectual property rights properly.

"Australia would take part in the investigation as a third party, after several other WTO members including Mexico, Japan and the EU," Australian Trade Minister Warren Truss was quoted as saying in the 'The Age' newspaper.

The United States recently intiated a case through the World Trade Organisation against China, arguing that its laws did not properly combat infringement of intellectual property and the country has been too slow to deal with the issue.

Percieving that the criminal sanctions in China on pirated copyright good or counterfeit products were inadequate a host of WTO members, including Mexico, Japan and the European Union, have also joined in the WTO investigation as third parties.

But China has argued, it has already increased efforts to fight the problem by dropping the threshold on the number of counterfeit or pirated goods that can be produced or sold before criminal sanctions apply.

Truss said the case raised important commercial issues in relation to WTO rules on intellectual property protection, including the meaning of counterfeiting or piracy "on a commercial scale".

But in a bid to protect Australia's close and growing relationship with China, Truss said, "Participation as a third party does not mean we are taking sides in the case." Instead it allowed Australia to register its views on the legal issues, he said, pointing out that China itself had been a third party more than 40 times since joining the WTO in 2001.