GENEVA - 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 honour 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 per cent of their production.
It denies it is using the environment as a pretext for supporting Chinese producers.