US Challenges Against China over Export Duties on Nine Raw Materials at WTO

On Wednesday, United States accused China of charging export duties on nine key raw materials at the World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing that it gave advantages to China’s manufacturers and making it more expensive for U.S. manufacturers.

According to the complaint, US said that China agreed to eliminate the export duties of all products except for those in specific annex when joined the WTO. The nine key raw materials challenged in recent case, including antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum, and tin, are not included in the annex.

Currently, China imposed 5 to 20 percent ad valorem on the nine raw materials, which is the important raw materials for aerospace, electronics and other parts of U.S. industrial sectors. The export duties benefits China’s manufacturers, helping them to lower the prices paid to raw materials, but make it costly to U.S. manufacturers and add pressures on them. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, US is trying to remove the export duties.

This is the 13th trade enforcement case between U.S and China at WTO, which is more than any other members in WTO, and until now, United States has won every case.

Both the Republican and Democratic presumptive presidential nominee gave opinions on the case. Republican nominee Donald Trump said it would put the trade enforcement as the top priority if elected. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also showed a tough attitude towards Beijing.

“It all comes down to fair competition—a notion that is fundamental to who we are as Americans. And one of the most important ways we have done that is by enforcing our trade laws—more aggressively than any previous Administration in history. Because here’s what I know—given a level playing field, American businesses and American workers will out-compete anyone.” Vice President Biden said.

Chinese embassy’s spokesman in Washington didn’t response to the case immediately. Consultations are only the first step in the process, which gave two countries the chance to resolve the problem. If the consultation is not successful, US could request WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel.

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