This morning the Canadian government announced that it is joining the U.S. World Trade Organization complaint against China over Chinese intellectual property protection. Canada will be a "third party" in the complaint, which was launched earlier this month over China's criminal statutes involving commercial-scale copyright infringement. The Department of Foreign Affairs claims that Canada's participation is based on "concerns expressed by Canadian stakeholders on a range of issues related to China’s intellectual property rights regime."
This is obviously nonsense. According to Statistics Canada, China only imported $13 million worth of Canadian culture goods or one-half of one percent of total Canadian culture goods exports. In other words, the Chinese market for Canadian cultural goods is presently tiny. While it is certainly possible that copyright infringement is eating away at some Canadian exports (and that China is a source of counterfeit products that are sold in Canada), the transparent reality is that Canada has succumbed to U.S. pressure (see my BBC piece today on the global U.S. IP pressure) become the first country to join the U.S. in the WTO complaint. The European Union immediately rejected the possibility of joining the complaint, presumably leaving the U.S. looking for other partners in its latest attempt at coalition building. With the continuing U.S. pressure on Canada on the intellectual property front, this was likely viewed as an easy way to curry favour with the U.S. (with the "only" cost being a continuing degeneration of Canada-China trade relations). The irony is that the USTR Special 301 report, due within days, will hold the prospect of U.S. trade sanctions against Canada for its own intellectual property protection framework.
Update: Sources say that both the European Union (reversing an earlier statement) and Japan will also be joining the WTO complaint.