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The World Trade Organization has ruled that China broke international rules on exports of certain rare earth metals, providing an unfair advantage to domestic companies.
A statement on the WTO's website says (quote) "The panel found that China's export duties were inconsistent with the commitments that China had agreed to in its protocol of accession."
The ruling follows complaints from the U.S., the European Union and Mexico dating back to 2009, and involves export restrictions on nine mineral exports, including magnesium and zinc. The minerals are essential for the steel, aluminium and chemical industries.
China imposed quotas on the metals to conserve its own supplies and more than doubled the export prices of some raw materials.
John Bacchus, a former chairman of the WTO, told Bloomberg Television that China is likely to appeal the WTO ruling.