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The US, the EU and Japan have filed a joint case against China at the World Trade Organization. They accuse the Chinese regime of implementing unfair trade restrictions on rare earth metals. This is the first ever case to be filed jointly by the US, EU and Japan at the WTO.
The US, EU and Japan have brought a joint case against China at the WTO. They say the Chinese regime's restrictions on rare earth exports are unfair and are pushing up global prices of the metals.
Rare earth metals are essential to the manufacture of high tech products and right now China controls over 95 percent of the global market. Critics of the Chinese regime's export restrictions say they are keeping the domestic prices down while international prices go up. This gives Chinese manufacturers an advantage.
The Chinese regime refutes these claims, citing environmental reasons for the restrictions.
[Liu Weimin, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson]:
"Exploiting rare earths effects the environment. So in order to protect the environment and resources and to realize sustainable development, China is implementing some management policies. We believe these policies are in line with WTO rules."
[Barack Obama, US President]:
"Now, if China would simply let the market work on its own, we'd have no objections. But their policies currently are preventing that from happening. And they go against the very rules that China agreed to follow."
Ivor Shrago, chairman of the mining services firm Rare Earths Global, told the BBC:
"Because of the deliberate decision that was taken, in China we have developed skills and expertise that the others do not have."
Now Western nations face a decision, either force the Chinese regime to lift its restrictions or start to re-develop their own rare earth industries, possibly a costly process.