China piracy cost U.S. firms $48 billion in 2009: report

BIG SKY, Montana (Reuters) - Chinese piracy and counterfeiting of U.S. software and a wide range of other intellectual property cost American businesses an estimated $48 billion in 2009, the U.S. International Trade Commission said in a report released on Wednesday.

It also concluded 2.1 million jobs could be created in the United States if China complied with its current international obligations to protect and enforce intellectual property rights. The most direct jobs impact would come in high-tech and other innovative industries.

The report, requested last year by top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, gives the Obama administration additional ammunition to press Beijing for better protections.

More than $26 billion of the losses came from the information and service sector and more than $18 billion came from the high-tech and heavy manufacturing sector in addition to billions more from other sectors, the report said.

"China's unfair practices cost the U.S. billions of dollars and millions of jobs," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said in a statement as top U.S., Chinese and other Asia Pacific trade officials gathered in his home state of Montana for an annual meeting.

"Time and time again, China has failed to protect and enforce American intellectual property rights, and it continues to discriminate unfairly against American businesses. We cannot pretend that there aren't real consequences to these violations when these numbers show that millions of American jobs are on the line," Baucus said.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Sandra Maler)