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IPR Protection Strengthened: Bo Xilai
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China is ready to further collaborate with the European Union on protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs), Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai said yesterday.

The country has strengthened the enforcement of IPR protection laws and launched campaigns against violations at wholesale and retail markets, Bo said while meeting European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

"IPR claim centers are being set up across the country to help protect the interests of foreign companies," he said, adding that the nation is willing to strengthen co-operation with the EU in this sector.

Mandelson welcomed China's progress in IPR protection; and said protection and enforcement of IPRs are "probably the most important issue in Europe's relations with China."

Landlords of Silk Street, a major Beijing retail market, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding on IPR protection with European fashion and sportswear brands to crack down on infringements.

According to the memorandum, if a vendor is found selling counterfeit goods, the landlord will suspend its operation; and its lease will be terminated if the offence is repeated.

On a separate topic, Bo criticized the European Commission's anti-dumping duties on Chinese leather shoes.

He said the commission was not justified in denying market economy status to Chinese footwear exporters; and expects fair treatment in the final ruling of the anti-dumping case.

According to European media, Mandelson noted consultations with China on an auto tariff dispute are complete, and said: "I think there will be a period of reflection on China's part and further informal discussions, I hope, before we determine the next steps."

Together with the United States, the EU filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization, alleging that the tariffs unfairly forced carmakers to use locally-made parts in cars assembled in China.

Mandelson called the discussions with Bo "very encouraging," but urged China to further open its markets to Europe because he believes it is one way to narrow the trade imbalance between the two economies.

(China Daily June 8, 2006)

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