The European Union (EU) has joined Japan and the United States in submitting an official complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to challenge China's export restrictions on raw earth materials, which are critical components for the manufacturing of high-tech products. China, in response, says it will deal with the dispute within the WTO's legal boundaries.
In a report Tuesday, Bloomberg stated that the three economic powers were challenging China's restrictions on raw earth exports which they alleged hurt producers and consumers across the world. China is the top rare earth producer globally, providing some 90 percent of the world's supply, it added.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told Bloomberg that the Chinese restrictions on rare earths and other products "violate trade rules and must be removed". He added that despite the WTO's "clear ruling" in a previous dispute over raw materials, China has "made no attempt" to remove other export restrictions.
"This leaves us no choice but to challenge China's export regime again to ensure fair access for our businesses to these materials," De Gucht stressed.
Restrictions to protect environment
Responding to the complaints, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Tuesday that it would "properly deal" with the dispute settlement request in accordance with WTO rules, according to a Xinhua report.
"Previously, China has been in constant communication and contact with related countries about its export policy on raw material products and has emphasized repeatedly that the policy aims to protect resources and the environment, and realize sustainable development," the MOC statement said.
China's minister of industry and information technology, Miao Wei, also told Xinhua that China suspended the issuance of new licenses for rare earth prospecting and mining, imposed production caps and export quotas, and announced tougher environmental standards for rare earth production in order to control environmental damage.
The move does not target any specific country and is not a kind of trade protectionism measure, Miao stressed.