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Foreign financial info gets win

CHINA yesterday announced rules that ease controls on foreign financial information providers under an agreement with the United States, Europe and Canada, but said those already operating in China must apply for permission to continue.

The rules eliminate a requirement that foreign providers must work through a Chinese agent and reduce the amount of information they must disclose about their operations.

China agreed to the changes in November to end a World Trade Organization complaint that it improperly helped Xinhua news agency compete to supply financial data to banks, brokerages and other clients.

Trade officials said the settlement would help Thomson Reuters Corp, Bloomberg LP and Dow Jones & Co.

Xinhua was replaced as the industry regulator in February with a Cabinet body, the State Council Information Office, after complaints that Xinhua should not be allowed to regulate its competitors.

Foreign providers that already operate in China must apply to the new regulator by July 1 for permission to continue.

The regulator has the power to reject applications.

Secrets protected

Foreign providers will be required to give the Cabinet office details of products, according to the regulations. It said the office would keep confidential any business secrets.

A Thomson Reuters spokesman, Henry Manisty, said in a written statement that the company looked forward to working with the new regulator on the "implementation of the new measures to ensure that financial markets in China are as well informed as their counterparts outside China."

In 2006 China began requiring foreign providers to funnel data through Xinhua to banks, securities firms and other clients. Xinhua began competing with foreign financial information providers in 2007 with the launch of its own service, "Xinhua 08."

The agency expressed hope it would overtake Western companies in the financial information sector.


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