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China defends exports policy in wake of WTO complaint
2009/06/24

 

    China defended its exports policy Wednesday morning in the wake of the United States and the European Union on Tuesday, June 24 filing a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

    An unnamed official with the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) defended China's restriction on exports of bauxite, coke, magnesium, zinc and silicon metal, among others, saying its export policies are consistent with WTO rules.

    The United States and the EU claim that China's export restrictions create unfair advantages for Chinese industries and distort world competition, or went against WTO regulations.

    "China's policies on these raw materials put a giant thumb on the scale in favor of Chinese producers," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk complained on Tuesday.

    He said the U.S. hoped to settle the dispute through bilateral dialogue, or the U.S. would take other measures.

    The European Commission said China's move to reduce material exports may affect 4 percent of the EU's industrial output, or 500,000 employees. The EU imported 4.5 billion euro of these materials from China in 2008.

    In response to the complaints, the MOC said the export restrictions were to protect the environment and natural resources.

    China made great efforts to save energy and protect the environment, according to the 11th five-year economic development outline (2006-2010). In the outline the government ordered the control of exports of some material that feature "high energy consumption, high pollution".

    Zhao Jinping, an expert with the State Council, or the country's Cabinet, told Xinhua: "Export restriction on these materials was in accordance with China's aim to establish an environment-friendly and energy-saving society."

    He said Western countries should not complain about China's export policies, while asking China to reduce emissions and save energy. "Its conflicted," he added.

    China is one of the world's most important producers and providers of metals. Some metals and material are crucial for industrial development, including the electrical, chemical and chinaware industries.

    According to the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism, China, the U.S. and the EU will have a 60-day period to consult. If no solution appears the plaintiffs can move to establish a WTO panel for a formal ruling.

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