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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Ministry 'ready' to face rare earth push

By Ding Qingfen and Li Jiabao  (China Daily)

09:30, February 01, 2012

BEIJING - China is "ready" to deal with increasing pressure from developed nations to loosen export restrictions on rare earths after the failure of an appeal against a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling, a Ministry of Commerce official said on Tuesday.

"We are ready for it," Yu Fang, deputy director of the department of treaty and law under the ministry, told China Daily.

Endorsing a previous finding, the WTO's appellate body declared on Monday that export limitations by China on nine raw materials, including zinc, coke and magnesium, through quotas and tariffs broke WTO rules.

It is "regretful" that the ruling has been upheld, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

But "the result is better than we expected as the WTO still supports many of our arguments", Yu said.

Zhou Shijian, a senior expert with Tsinghua University, echoed this view.

"It only requested that China make some technical changes while the ruling actually rejected the majority of their (US and EU) appeals."

The US, EU and Mexico said in 2009 that China's export restrictions on raw materials discriminated against foreign manufacturers and gave an unfair advantage to Chinese producers.

A dispute settlement panel ruled in July that export duties and quotas on raw materials contradicted China's WTO commitments. China later lodged an appeal to the WTO appellate body.

Although rare earths, crucial ingredients in many high-tech products, were not part of Monday's ruling, a number of Washington lawmakers urged the US to use the decision to launch a case to force Beijing to lift rare earth export restrictions.

"The decision of the appellate body is a huge victory for the US," Michael Silver, chief executive of American Elements, a US-based rare earths processor, was quoted as saying by Reuters. "It confirms the existence of the two-tiered price structure that has caused so much concern."


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