US to File WTO Case Against China Over Rare Earths

Posted March 12th, 2012 at 11:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Officials with the Obama administration say the United States will file a new trade case against China over its limits on exports of so-called “rare earth” minerals.

The officials say President Barack Obama will announce Tuesday that the U.S., along with the European Union and Japan, will file the case at the World Trade Organization. China is the world's main exporter of rare earths — 17 minerals used in making many high-tech products including flat screen televisions, hybrid car batteries and wind turbines.

China says it has restricted the exports in recent years in order to meet its own domestic manufacturing needs, and to ease the environmental impact from excessive mining.

Washington says the policy gives Chinese companies an unfair advantage by increasing production costs for American firms.

China controls more than 95 percent of the world's production of rare earths. The minerals are found in other countries, but production elsewhere involves higher costs.

Tuesday's announcement is the latest action taken by the Obama administration against Beijing over what it claims to be unfair trading practices. The administration imposed a series of tariffs on Chinese tires in September 2009, claiming that surging imports of Chinese tires were hurting U.S. tire manufacturers and threatening jobs.

Mr. Obama has also announced the creation of a new trade enforcement center to ensure that China and other nations abide by WTO rules.