MPAA chairman/CEO Dan Glickman is claiming the U.S. film industry won a major victory today in its years-long battle to open the Chinese movie market. The World Trade Organization (WTO) decided that America vs China market access case, dating back to 2007, in the U.S. government’s favor on virtually every count, and declared that some of China’s most difficult barriers to its entertainment market are clear violations of international trade rules. “The decision points a way forward that will begin to even the playing field in this important market,” Glickman said in a statement. “The WTO struck down China’s film import monopoly as well as the barriers that keep U.S. companies from importing and distributing DVDs in China. The U.S. government also challenged the monopoly China maintains over the distribution of U.S. movies shown in Chinese theaters, and the WTO ruled that — based on the statements that China made during the proceeding — China’s laws do not prevent opening this market to competition, another long-sought objective of the industry.”
Glickman called the Chinese system for distributing U.S. films to Chinese audiences “among the most restrictive and burdensome in the world” prompting Hollywood to spend years pressuring the Chinese to ease these barriers. “It is potentially promising that the Chinese government has now, in its own words, indicated that a pathway does exist to ensure that U.S. films are treated in a more even-handed manner and more in line with accepted commercial practices. This decision, coupled with the recent announcement from the State Council that the Chinese government intends to lower market access thresholds for the cultural industry, may be an opening we have been seeking.”
The WTO ruling did not, however, address China’s 20-film quota. That restriction remains in place.