On April 30, 2009, the State Council issued a new measure to implement China’s WTO settlement agreement with the EU, U.S., and Canada on restrictions placed on foreign financial information providers in 2007. The new measure effectively replaced Xinhua News Agency with the State Council Information Office as the key regulator for foreign financial information providers. The new system also formally reinstitutes the right of foreign financial information providers to distribute products directly to their customers.
Foreign news agencies, industry associations and foreign governments all lodged complaints in the fall of 2007 when Xinhua News Agency, acting as both industry regulator and competitor, issued regulations that would have severely hindered the business operations of foreign news agencies in China. These complaints ultimately resulted in a WTO dispute filing by the EU, U.S. and Canadian governments in March of 2008. In November 2008, China agreed to implement a new regulatory framework by June 1, 2009 to settle the dispute. The “Measures on the Administration of the Provision of Financial Information Services in China by Foreign Institutions” (“Measures”) were issued to comply with this settlement agreement.
The Measures define “financial information services” as “the services provided to users engaging in financial analysis, financial transactions, financial decision-making or other financial activities in respect of the provision of the information and/or financial statistics which may affect financial markets.” It further emphasizes that “such services are separate from news agency services.”