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EU presses rare earths dispute with China

GENEVA (AP) - The European Union has taken another legal step before the World Trade Organization to challenge China’s export restrictions on rare earths used in high-tech products.

The EU, United States and Japan, whose companies use rare earths for mobile phone batteries, camera lenses and other high-tech products, have all challenged China’s claim that its curbs on exports are necessary environmental protections.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said Wednesday the EU has asked for a WTO panel to settle the dispute by requiring China to honor its commitments to the Geneva-based global free-trade body.

China has about a third of the world’s rare-earth deposits but accounts for over 90 percent of their production.

It denies it is using the environment as a pretext for supporting Chinese producers.

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