Today the Obama administration announced it, along with the European Union and Japan, is bringing an unfair trade complaint against China to the World Trade Organization regarding control of the global supply of rare earth minerals.
It’s being alleged China, which is a member of the WTO and accountable to its rules, is holding back on the export of 17 rare earths vital not only to hybrid cars, but also flat screen TVs, smart phones, and weapons, among other products.
“America’s workers and manufacturers are being hurt in both established and budding industrial sectors by these policies,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement. “China continues to make its export restraints more restrictive, resulting in massive distortions and harmful disruptions in supply chains for these materials throughout the global marketplace.”
CBS News reported Chinese spokesman Liu Weimin defended Chinese policies, saying it abides by WTO rules, and China has about 35 percent of rare earth deposits but accounts for more than 90 percent of global production.
“China hopes other countries can shoulder responsibility for supplies and can find alternative resources,” he said.
WTO rules stipulate that China has 10 days to formally respond and 60 days to hold talks with the U.S., E.U., and Japan. If no satisfactory resolution comes from this, WTO rules allow the complainants to request the WTO to formally investigate the allegations against China.