The European Union, the U.S. and Japan have filed a joint complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China's export restrictions on rare earth metals, the European Commission said on Tuesday.
"China's restrictions on rare earths and other products violate international trade rules and must be removed. These measures hurt our producers and consumers in the EU and across the world, including manufacturers of pioneering hi-tech and 'green' business applications," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht was quoted in a statement as saying.
"Despite the clear ruling of the WTO in our first dispute on raw materials, China has made no attempt to remove the 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," he added.
The Chinese government has repeatedly stated the need to regulate rare earth metal production due to rapid depletion and environmental concerns.
China accounts for about a third of the world’s rare earth metals reserves and over 90 percent of the market for rare earth metals, an important raw material for high-tech electronics.
Beijing suddenly dropped export quotas by 72 percent in the second half of 2010 to 7,976 tons but then increased them to 14,446 tons in the first half of 2011 and to 15,738 tons in the second half of 2011. Overall export quotas for 2012 may amount to 31,130 tons.