- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Obama administration on Tuesday filed its first unfair-trade case against China before the World Trade Organization, accusing the Asian power of restricting exports of key raw materials needed for the production of steel, aluminum and other products.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said at a news conference that the U.S. is “deeply troubled by what appears to be a conscious policy to create unfair advantages for Chinese industries.”

The European Union filed its own case on the matter, setting the stage for what could be a showdown among the world’s major trading countries.

The materials at issue include coke, bauxite, magnesium and silicon metal, the U.S. complaint notes. The U.S. and EU complaints say China’s export restrictions give its companies an unfair edge over their foreign rivals by giving them access to cheaper materials, despite WTO rules against export curbs.

“The Chinese restrictions on raw materials distort competition and increase global prices, making things even more difficult for our companies in this economic downturn,” EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said.

Ms. Ashton and Mr. Kirk expressed hope the issue could be resolved during a 60-day negotiating period. But if that doesn’t happen, Mr. Kirk said the U.S. will go forward with a WTO case because of the issue’s importance to American companies and workers.

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