(CN) – China’s export restrictions on raw materials used to make everything from soda cans, compact discs, batteries and medicines are protectionist and unjustifiable, the World Trade Organization ruled Monday.
The WTO’s appellate body confirmed a panel’s 2011 decision that environmental protection or conservation policy do not justify China’s export restrictions on various forms bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorus and zinc.
China’s restrictions had caused consternation among industries in Europe, the United States and Mexico, as the raw materials at issue are important to many industries and some of them cannot be found outside of China.
“This final ruling is a great success in our efforts to ensure fair access to the much needed raw materials for EU industry,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said in a statement. “Today’s decision has confirmed that China’s export restrictions on these raw materials are incompatible with the WTO rules. It sends a clear signal that such measures cannot be used as a protectionist tool to boost domestic industry at the expense of foreign competition.”
The EU imports about a billion euros worth of the raw materials at issue from China every year. China provides more than 60 percent of EU imports of more than half of the materials, and the union gets some 90 percent of its bauxite, manganese and magnesium from China, according to a memo published by the European Commission on Monday.
The EU, the United States and Mexico took their complaints to the WTO in 2009. After China resisted an “amicable solution,” the organization’s panel agreed with most of the EU’s claims.
China appealed, but the WTO’s appellate body upheld much of the prior ruling. The commission will now request adoption of the report by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body within the next month.