Wed, Dec 16, 2009 - Page 12 News List

EU group urges PRC to delay indigenous technology decision

AP , BEIJING

A European business group yesterday urged China to delay a new government procurement plan that gives priority to Chinese “indigenous innovation,” a practice that links government purchases with local patents.

The rule, in place for six weeks but only widely known last week, requires sellers of high-tech products to have them accredited based on “indigenous innovation” — or local intellectual property — before they can be listed in a government procurement catalog.

Approved products will get preference over those without accreditation.

Billions of dollars of business are potentially at stake. China’s Finance Ministry said in August that government purchasing, including nontechnical goods, last year rose 28.5 percent year-on-year to 599.1 billion yuan (US$81.9 billion).

The EU Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 1,000 companies, said it was concerned that there was a lack of transparency in the ruling and that the application period was too short to get in the procurement catalog.

“Such an accreditation system would also call into question China’s recent commitments to resist protectionist pressures,” Chamber President Joerg Wuttke said in a letter to the government ministries and agency that issued the notice.

The notice, jointly issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission, said the accreditation process would help develop an “innovative” country.

Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) said in a statement on Monday that “the accreditation work treats both domestic and foreign-invested enterprises equally, without discrimination.”

The chamber said European companies were worried that they would be forced to transfer their intellectual properties developed at home to China to qualify for the government procurement list.

Last week, more than 30 business groups from the US and other countries sent a joint protest letter “to strongly urge the Chinese government not to proceed” with the new rule.

The six categories requiring accreditation are computers and appliances, telecom products, modern office equipment, software, renewable energy and equipment, and energy-saving products.

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