In the wake of China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), many foreign investors are excited to see China further open up its domestic sectors to foreign investment and have expressed their welcome to China into a new era of economic development. Some felt relieved that the days will be gone when China used "internal" documents which were not available to foreigners but governed business activities in China. Are these changes really taking place in China? The answer is generally positive.
WTO UPDATE: Comparing the U.S.-China Bilateral Agreement and the Working Party Report
China's long march to WTO accession is now over. The WTO working party on China's accession adopted its report and an accession protocol, which outlines the deal the world's most populous market has made with the world, on September 17, 2001, while formal accession occurred on December 11, 2001. For the past two years, it was the bilateral deal China had made with the U.S. on November 15, 1999 that foreign investors used to gauge China's WTO commitments and plan their investment time tables and pick avenues for opportunity. We will explore how the deal China made with the world differs with the deal China made with the U.S. and highlight important developments that foreign investors should be apprised of in the following key sectors: Telecommunications, Professional Services, Other Services (including Computer and Related Services, Computer Reservation System Services, Advertising Services and Audiovisual Services), Insurance, Securities and Banking.
New Copyright Law
China has recently revised its copyright law to comply with the provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the "Trips Agreement"). The revisions have updated the old law to give a wider protection for copyright owners in China. The new law includes new forms of rights for copyright owners in the Internet era, such as the right to collection of works or data and the right to transmit the works online. The new law also contains useful provisions on injunctive relief and statutory damages with a view to strengthening enforcement of intellectual property rights after China's entering into the WTO.
Opening Road Transportation to Foreign Investment
China has issued regulations to open inland road transportation to foreign investment. Foreign investors are now able to establish joint ventures for road passenger and cargo transportation in China. They will also be able to set up wholly foreign-owned entities ("WFOE") in road transportation in China at a later stage.