Tuesday, March 13, 2012

China defends rare earth export restrictions

BEIJING - China on Tuesday defended its restrictions on exports of rare earths, as Washington prepares to launch a fresh trade suit against Beijing on the key materials at the World Trade Organization.

"Based on environmental protection and in order to achieve sustainable development, China carries out management policies over the export of rare earths," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.

"We believe such measures comply with WTO rules."

China produces more than 95 percent of the world's rare earths - critical to making everything from iPods to low-emission cars - and its quotas on exports of the elements have triggered an outcry among major trading partners.

US President Barack Obama is expected to announce later Tuesday that the United States - along with the European Union and Japan - will bring a new suit against China at the WTO, prompted by these restrictions.

Critics say Beijing's strategy is aimed at driving up global prices of the metals and forcing foreign firms to relocate to the country to access them.

But Beijing says the restrictions are necessary to conserve the highly sought-after natural resource, limit harm to the environment from excessive mining and meet domestic demand.

China's official Xinhua news agency on Tuesday hit out at Obama's planned announcement, saying the suit was "likely to hurt bilateral trade ties and trigger a backlash from China instead of settling the rift".

Liu said China would continue to supply rare earths to the international market, and pointed out that Beijing had also put restrictions on mining the materials within the country.

Beijing has for instance stopped issuing new licences for prospecting and mining rare earths and has also adopted production caps, in what it says is a bid to protect the environment.

View the original article here

Source From Channel News Asia

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