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May 24, 2017

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Beijing has 'reservations' over WTO payments ruling

BEIJING -- Beijing said Tuesday it had "reservations" over a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling largely backing the United States in a dispute over lucrative electronic payments, in which U.S. companies are global leaders but lag in China.

More than US$1 trillion in electronic payment services (EPS) transactions, including both debit and credit cards, are processed each year in China, the world's second-largest economy.

Washington had gone to the WTO to accuse Beijing of discriminating against U.S. credit card firms.

Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said in a statement that while not all aspects of the WTO ruling went against China, the government had some "reservations" and "will seriously review the panel's report."

The WTO, he said, had found that EPS came under the payment and money transmission services that China "promised to open up at its entry into the WTO."

"China has reservations on this," he added.

Both sides have 60 days to appeal the WTO decision. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it planned to accept the report.

The WTO announced Monday in Geneva that Beijing had violated trade rules in regulations that entrenched China Union Pay, or CUP, as the dominating force in the market.

Among the violations cited were Beijing's requirement that all payment cards issued in China bear the CUP logo, and all terminal equipment must be capable of accepting CUP-logo cards.

But the WTO rejected U.S. accusations that China maintains CUP as an "across the board monopoly supplier" for processing all payment card transactions in renminbi, as the yuan currency is officially known.

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