Japan, EU, US launch rare earth WTO case against China

Written by Reuters | Brussels | Updated: Mar 14 2012, 11:14am hrs
The European Union, United States and Japan formally asked the World Trade Organization on Tuesday to settle a dispute with China over Beijings restriction on exports of raw materials, including rare earth elements critical to major industries.

The EUs trade chief, Karel De Gucht, said the three trading powers were making the dispute settlement request, the first step before filing a full trade case, following a successful EU challenge at the WTO on similar restrictions earlier this year.

Chinas restrictions on rare earths and other products violate international trade rules and must be removed, De Gucht said. These measures hurt our producers and consumers in the EU and across the world, including manufacturers of pioneering hi-tech and green business applications.

China accounts for 97% of the worlds output of the 17 rare earth metals, which are crucial for global electronics production and the defence and renewable-energy industries. They are also used in a wide range of consumer products, from mobile phones to electric cars.

The dispute is one of several between Beijing and the three economic powers, as Chinas rise changes the world economic order. It is the first case to be jointly filed by the EU, US and Japan with WTO, EU official said.