WTO rules against China's export limits

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A rare earth mining field in Gangzhou, Jiangxi Province. China sets quotas on rare earth exports starting last year. [CFP]

The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled Tuesday that China's cubs on its exports of nine raw materials that are used widely in steel, aluminum and chemical industries is not in line with international law.

The ruling was released  by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body after an 18-month WTO investigation of Chinese quotas, export duties and license requirements on industrial ingredients such as coke, zinc and bauxite.

The panel supported the United States, European Union and Mexico, which had each filed complaints saying China was driving up the prices they pay for raw materials such as coke, bauxite and zinc by setting export duties and quotas on them.

China's reinforced administration of certain resources products is not breaking the objective of the WTO, the Chinese Preferment Mission to the WTO said Tuesday in response to the ruling, according to a Xinhua News Agency report Wednesday.

Over the past few years, the Chinese government in the recent years has set control on certain resource products, especially "high-pollution, high-energy-consuming and resource-dependent" products, to protect the environment and exhaustible natural resources, the Chinese Mission said in a statement.

"The panel makes findings in favor of China in many aspects, such as the terms of reference, export quota allocation and administration, issuance of export license, etc," the statement said.

In addition, the panel also identifies that China has withdrawn its minimum export price requirement and sympathizes with China's comprehensive administrative measures on bauxite and fluorspar.

"China appreciates these findings," the Chinese Mission said.

"However, China feels regret that the panel finds that China's relevant measures regarding export duties and export quotas are inconsistent with China's obligations under its Accession Protocol and the WTO covered agreements," the statement said.

The Chinese Mission also said the country is evaluating the panel report, and will properly follow up the procedure in accordance with the Dispute Settlement Understanding.

According to the WTO dispute settlement rules, both sides of the dispute have the right to appeal to the Appellate Body within 60 days from the release of the panel report.

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