March 25, 2010

TRADE WAR: US Credit Cards Demand China Access

Bloomberg via Businessweek reports that US Trade Representative Ron Kirk may be considering a WTO complaint against China on behalf of Visa, American Express, MasterCard, and Discover Financial. The credit card giants want access to China's fast growing electronic payment processing market. Although Chinese still prefer to use cash for most transactions credit and debit cards are rapidly gaining popularity. The number of new cards issued is measured in hundreds of millions. Most growth has occurred in just the past few years and domestic ATM king UnionPay has the largest market share in China at around 65%.

America's card companies claim China committed to opening up the sector to foreign competition when it joined the WTO. Fact is, however, there is absolutely no mention whatsoever regarding credit or debit cards and electronic payment processing in either the USA China Trade Relations Act or the WTO Accession Protocol. Both documents are readily available at the Sinomania! website....

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China should be able to protect it's nascent credit card market from established foreign firms with warchests and technologies that will destroy any local up and coming frims in the industry. If WTO is used to allow any mature foreign industry unfettered access to nascent chinese markets, china's home grown firms will be eaten alive.
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