SHANGHAI — China agreed on Thursday to loosen restrictions on foreign news and information providers inside the country, settling a trade dispute with the United States, the European Union and Canada.
The agreement, which was signed in Geneva, allows international news and information agencies, like Bloomberg, Dow Jones & Company and Thomson Reuters, to more freely compete and sell their services inside China, where government controls were tightened in 2006.
The United States and European Union had filed a case against China at the World Trade Organization in March arguing that China unfairly required foreign news and financial information providers to be licensed by the Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese state-controlled entity that serves as the official outlet for the Communist Party and also a competitor of the foreign news companies. Canada later filed its own complaint against China.
According to the settlement, China agreed to remove the requirement that financial news providers be licensed by Xinhua and instead will set up an independent regulatory agency to oversee all financial news and information providers.
Foreign news and financial services companies are eager to sell their services into China’s booming financial services market, where a growing number of Chinese companies and government agencies are seeking valuable and timely news and financial information.
The United States trade representative, Susan C. Schwab, called the settlement a major step toward making financial information more widely available.She said: “I am very pleased we have been able to sign an agreement with China today to allow financial information suppliers like Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters to operate in China free of unfair restrictions that threatened to place them at a serious advantage.”