U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman announced July 13 that the U.S. has requested World Trade Organization dispute settlement consultations with China concerning export duties on nine different raw materials, namely antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum and tin. China agreed to eliminate these duties when it joined the WTO but the U.S. contends that Beijing has failed to follow through on this commitment. USTR notes that this is the 13th trade enforcement case pursued by the Obama administration against China, more than any other WTO member over the same period.
The U.S. indicates that the targeted export duties, which range from five to 20 percent ad valorem, provide substantial competitive advantages for Chinese manufacturers by making the raw materials more expensive for U.S. manufacturers that rely on these inputs to produce their downstream goods. These nine raw materials are key inputs into high-value products in vital U.S. industrial sectors, including aerospace, automotive, electronics and chemicals.
A request for consultations is the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process. If talks do not resolve the matter within 60 days, the U.S. may ask the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel.