TRADE

House Panel Votes to Repeal Byrd Amendment

The House Ways and Means Committee voted to repeal the Byrd Amendment, which distributes to U.S. companies the proceeds from duties on foreign imports. It was ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization in 2002, and foreign governments have begun retaliating against U.S. exports. The Bush administration had been calling for the law's repeal. The vote came as part of a larger package of spending cuts.

Under the amendment, named after Sen. Robert Byrd (D.-W.Va.), duties the U.S. Customs collects on goods deemed to be "dumped" at below-market rates or subsidized by foreign governments are given to the companies that filed complaints. Before the law was enacted, that money went to the Treasury. More than $1 billion has been disbursed by U.S. Customs since 2000, and the bureau is holding at least $5 billion more in funds collected.

CHINA

U.S. Urges Copyright Protection

The Bush administration asked China to outline by Jan. 23 what it's doing to reduce violations of U.S. movie, software and other copyrights.

The request was made through the World Trade Organization. The information could be used in a trade case against China should the United States decide to pursue one. Japan and Switzerland filed similar requests.

The U.S. request seeks information on how many enforcement cases have been brought by the Chinese, including a breakdown of how many resulted in criminal penalties and civil fines.

Toyota Seeks to Build Another Plant

Toyota Motor said its joint venture with China's biggest automaker plans to build a third plant in China with an annual production capacity of 200,000 passenger cars. Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor, set up by Toyota and China FAW Group, is applying for Chinese government approval of the joint project in China's northeastern city of Tianjin, Toyota said.

JAPAN

Broadcasters to Stay in National Hands

Foreign companies would be prohibited from controlling Japanese broadcasters under legislation approved by parliament. The law would limit foreign ownership of any broadcaster to 20 percent.

The legislation was proposed after an attempt this year by a Japanese Internet company, backed by U.S. capital, to take over a radio station.

Fiat said it had a profit of $989.6 million in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $517 million in the third quarter last year. Revenue rose slightly, to $12.74 billion.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.