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China, EU to launch detailed IPR Action Plan
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The visiting EU Commissioner responsible for taxation and customs, Laszio Kovacs, reiterated in Beijing on Monday that a concrete Action Plan on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) will be worked out between China and the European Union (EU).

"The Action Plan will include specific commitments for both parties to strengthen cooperation on protecting IPR, with details still under discussion," Kovacs told a press conference in Beijing.

Kovacs was in Beijing to attend the 3rd Joint Customs Cooperation Committee meeting between China and the EU. He also held talks with Mu Xinsheng, the minister of the Chinese General Administration of Customs (GAC), on Monday.

Kovacs said that both sides agreed on the strategic partnership between China and the EU in the third meeting and began to discuss details of the Action Plan. IPR protection is a major issue for EU businesses, for which counterfeit and pirated products pose a serious challenge.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged last November that the Chinese government was sincere and ambitious in IPR protection and would take more actions in this regard.

"Protecting IPR is not only necessitated by China's opening up but also by a domestic drive for encouraging innovation and scientific development," Wen told the fourth EU-China Business Summit.

Most recently, China and the EU signed the minutes of the bilateral IPR Working Group and launched the China-EU IPR Phase II program.

Kovacs praised the progress made by the Chinese government in setting up an IPR regime, with visible improvements in enforcement. But he said that the problem of IPR infringements in China far exceeded the level of customs intervention and numerous actions still needed to be taken.

He also discussed with the Chinese side the issue of strengthening the security of the supply chain and facilitating trade for reliable traders.

According to Kovacs, such work began in December 2006, with the launch of the EU-China pilot project on secure and smart trade lanes.

On Nov. 19, 2007, the customs administrations of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and China exchanged for the first time electronic information on sea containers leaving their territory through the ports of Rotterdam, Felixstowe and Shenzhen. Kovacs said that China and the EU intended to expand the pilot ports from the current three to include Hong Kong and the ports of more EU members.

The EU remains China's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade hitting US$356.15 billion last year, up 27 percent year-on-year.

(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2008)

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