WTO establishes panel to settle rare earths dispute

July 24th, 2012 - 1:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, July 24 (IANS) The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has established a panel to consider China’s exports of rare earths on the complaints of the US, the European Union (EU) and Japan.

The US, the EU and Japan brought similar complaints to the WTO March 13 this year, claiming that China has put up improper export restrictions of various raw materials, including rare earths, reported Xinhua.

Formal consultations were held afterwards under the WTO dispute settlement framework, but failed.

The separate complaints will now merge into one and be considered by the single panel.

The panel is expected to hear from both sides, and come up with a report on the case, a process that normally takes up to six months.

Rare earth are a group of 17 chimerical elements that are vital for manufacturing an array of high-tech products, including cell phones, wind turbines, electric car batteries and missiles.

China supplies more than 90 percent of rare earth products on the global market, although its reserves only account for about one-third of the world’s total. The mining of rare earth metals has been blamed for environmental damage in some parts of China.

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