Make China drop export duties on copper and other minerals: US to WTO

The Unites States is seeking the support of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in pressuring China to remove export duties on certain minerals that give it an unfair trade advantage.

Saying that China agreed to remove duties ranging from 5% to 20% on antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum and tin when it joined the WTO 15 years ago, Washington filed a new WTO challenge against Beijing. The duties make the minerals cheaper in China and more expensive outside the country, thus promoting China's domestic industries at the expense of foreign ones, the argument by the United States goes.

However China disagrees, saying that keeping export duties on certain products " is consistent with WTO rules and in place as part of China’s efforts to step up environmental protection. China will resolve the dispute in accordance with the WTO dispute settlement system," China’s Commerce Ministry said in response to the U.S. complaint, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"We’re demanding that other countries abide by the letter and spirit of the international obligations they sign on to": Vice President Joe Biden

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman suggested the duties impose higher costs on U.S. manufacturers and encourage companies to locate to China where they don't have to pay them.

"These duties are China's attempt to game the system so that raw materials are cheaper for their manufacturers and more expensive for ours," Froman said in a statement.

The 13th trade enforcement at the WTO by the Obama administration is likely to get political, with both presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton vowing to get tough on America's trade partners perceived to be cheating.

“We’re demanding that other countries abide by the letter and spirit of the international obligations they sign on to,” WSJ quotes Vice President Joe Biden saying Wednesday in a speech at the Port of San Diego. “I’m going to make sure we make no apologies for enforcing trade agreements."