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Hollywood's Small WTO Victory Over China

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on August 13, 2009

The top lobbyist for the major Hollywood studios is hailing yesterday’s news that the World Trade Organization has ruled in favor of the U.S. government’s complaint against China’s restrictions on foreign films. After years of getting nowhere in China, the movie industry understandably is celebrating this WTO win: Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, called the ruling “a major victory” and said in a statement it “points a way forward that will begin to even the playing field in this important market.”

Maybe, but there’s still a long way to go before Hollywood can count on China as a big source of revenue. Glickman says the WTO ruling strikes down China’s film import monopoly as well as barriers that keep American companies from importing and distributing DVDs. Because of rampant piracy, though, there’s very little demand for imported DVDs, no matter who is distributing them. Likewise, the WTO ruling against China’s monopoly on film imports doesn’t do anything about the bigger problem, which is the 20-movie annual quota on foreign movies. As Glickman’s statement says in a succinct final sentence, “that restriction remains in place.”

For more on Glickman’s views about China, see this interview I did with him last year.

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Reader Comments


August 13, 2009 09:16 AM

A protectionist China, what else is new. Imagine if America put its own people first.


August 14, 2009 01:39 PM

Peter, I go to China once almost every year. You know what, I feel just like shopping in any North American mall. I hardly find any American brand that's not there. There have been quite a number of moments I lost track where I was, in NY, LA, Toronto, or Shanghai. By the way I once waited for 45 minutes for a PizzaHut table in Kunming, which is in one of the most remote south-west provinces, the city is just a bit over three hundred kilometers to Vietnam. I would have to say, China could be anything else but protectionist.

Well, American movies are everywhere too for less than $2 (around RMB10), even though the official quota is 20 movies annually. Of course, most of them are counterfeits.


August 14, 2009 03:52 PM

How many foreign movies were actually in US's threaters? Almost none. I did not remember any foreign made movies were marketed in US, why? Lack of demands? Maybe.


August 15, 2009 12:44 AM

Just ban Hollywood outright. China will live better without Hollywood!

Other Peter

August 16, 2009 02:16 AM

The world should be protected from the techniques of mind control used by Hollywood.

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BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.

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