- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

BRUSSELS (AP) - The United States, the European Union and Japan are filing complaints with the World Trade Organization charging that China is limiting its export of rare earths, raw materials that are vital to the production of technology components.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said China’s export quotas and export duties give Chinese companies an unfair competitive advantage, hurting producers and consumers around the world.

Rare earths are minerals that are used in a wide variety of industries, from hard drives to car parts, electronics, fiber optics _ and every smart phone in use today.

The three separate but coordinated filings with the WTO formally request dispute settlement consultation, which is the first step in a WTO complaint.