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china to alter rare-earths exports policy

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    China to alter rare-earths exports policy
    Beijing to double quota for second half of year after ruling by World Trade Organisation
    Teddy Ng in Beijing
    Jul 15, 2011
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    China will change its policy regarding the export of rare-earth minerals, after the World Trade Organisation ruled this month that the country has violated its trade obligations by imposing limits on exporting the raw materials, European Union Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht says.

    The commissioner made the comment yesterday after meeting Commerce Minister Chen Deming and after China announced that it would almost double its rare-earths export quota for the second half of the year.

    The Ministry of Commerce announced the quota rise yesterday, saying it would total 15,738 tonnes for 26 companies, up from 7,976 tonnes during the same period last year.

    The WTO ruled on July 5 that export duties China imposed on certain raw materials were inconsistent with the country's obligations under the WTO's accession protocol, and that limiting the export quotas out of environmental concerns was not justified. The EU welcomed the decision, which China said it would appeal against.

    Speaking after the meeting with De Gucht, Chen said he was not concerned about any possible WTO challenge to Beijing's policy on rare earths - 17 types of mineral widely used in hi-tech manufacturing.

    "The issue has not entered the WTO stage," he said. "I am not worried because we have had some negotiation with the European Union."

    De Gucht said the EU preferred to negotiate a solution with China but the EU would not hesitate to take additional action if a negotiated solution could not be reached.

    "They have indicated that they are going to change the policy. They realised they have to change the policy. They gave only a general indication of that, but from the general indication they gave, I can conclude that they realised that they cannot have different policies with respect to exports and with internal consumption."

    China controls about 90 per cent of the world's rare-earths supply. It began reducing their export last year.

    Additional reporting by Reuters

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