Monday, 15 June 2009

WSJ: EU and US to sue China in the WTO for export tariffs

EU, U.S. to File Suit Against China


BRUSSELS -- The European Union and the U.S. will jointly file suit against China at the World Trade Organization this month in a bid to stop the Asian giant from hoarding key minerals and to set a precedent for other big producers of raw materials, people familiar with the issue said Thursday.

For more than two years, China has been using tariffs on exports to keep important industrial ingredients like zinc, tin and silicon for use at home. At the same time, Beijing has aggressively bought up large quantities of minerals from resource-rich African countries.

Western governments say the policy gives Chinese chemical firms, steelmakers and other producers an unfair advantage. EU and U.S. trade negotiators have prepared a list of 20 materials, mainly chemicals and metals, they believe are subject to illegal export restrictions, though it is unclear how many of these will be part of the WTO complaint, a European diplomat said.

One restriction that has provoked strong objections from the EU and the U.S. is an export duty on yellow phosphorous, the diplomat said. China imposes a 95% duty on the material, which is used to make numerous industrial chemicals, far above limits on such duties that China accepted when it joined the WTO, the diplomat said.

China also places quotas on the amount of certain raw materials that can be exported, another potential violation of WTO rules, the diplomat said.

China is not the only culprit. In an old-fashioned scramble for resources, Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, South Africa and India also have slapped tariffs or imposed other forms of export restrictions on exports including wood, chemicals and iron ore.

The global economic boom that prompted the scramble for raw materials is over, but the tariffs remain, an annoyance to companies in the resource-poor developed world.

Last year, the European Commission in Brussels drafted a dramatic warning that a shortage of some minerals "threatened the competitiveness of European industry." The report pointed to a costly shortage in 2000 of tantalum, an ingredient in mobile phones, as an example of the bloc's vulnerability, and suggested "reinforcing the dialogue" with China and Russia, a veiled threat to take the case to the WTO, according to EU officials.

Chinese diplomats were "surprised only at the timing" of the news of a WTO challenge, said a Chinese trade-ministry official based in Brussels. "The Europeans have been complaining about this for nearly two years, but we thought it was coming at the end of this year," he said. The official said China has imposed export tariffs of as much as 100% on some products, but these were justified by "exceptional situations linked to our internal factors."

The bureaucratic complexities of the WTO system mean it will be at least two years before a ruling is made on the Chinese tariffs. EU and U.S. trade officials, however, say that opening the case is a warning shot to other countries considering export tariffs.

Write to John W. Miller at and Matthew Dalton at


2009-06-15 10:51:08 来源: 环球时报(北京) 跟贴 16 手机看股票


环球时报6月15日讯 继反倾销、反补贴之后,欧美又向中国挥起了新的贸易保护大棒。据美国《华尔街日报》12日报道,欧盟和美国计划本月联合向世贸组织上诉,指控中国对出口原材料征税、"囤积资源","并给其他资源出口国造成先例"。对此中国专家表示,包括美国在内的世界各国都在保护本国资源,中国这么做合情合理。


《华尔街日报》报道说,西方政府指责中国对原材料出口征税,从而使中国的化工和钢铁等企业获 得了不公平的优势。欧盟和美国为此已经准备了一张清单,有可能于本月在世贸组织框架内对中国限制大约20种工业原材料出口提起诉讼。报道说,今年一季度, 中国用于生产铝和钢等金属的原矿对欧洲的发货量下降了90%以上。文章称,不仅中国,俄罗斯、乌克兰、阿根廷、南非和印度都曾对资源出口征收高关税。

路透社的报道称,欧盟和美国将于6月22日正式要求和北京方面进行磋商,如果对话努力不奏 效,将要求世贸组织专家小组听取投诉。欧洲委员会贸易发言人卢兹?格尔纳不愿证实欧盟是否、或将如何提出诉讼。但他承认,"我们对出口限制问题,以及中国 对原材料出口的限制关注多时……所以这是个重要的问题。"路透社的消息透露,这次涉及的原材料包括黄磷、锑、焦炭、硅、钨、锡和锌等。欧洲化工部门对于中 国去年决定对黄磷出口征收120%关税的决定相当不满。黄磷是用于多种化工产品的关键材料。一名欧洲化工官员对路透社抱怨说,"这项关税等于在扼杀他们, 因为欧洲人每买一吨黄磷要比中国的制造商多花大约2500美元。"


美国媒体评论说,欧美此次联手行动"或许会给已经摩擦重 重的中美及中欧贸易关系火上浇油"。美国前助理贸易代表肖恩?斯派塞警告说,近期提交到世贸组织的案件数量可能会飙升,同时各国也会纷纷祭起形形色色的保 护主义大旗。华盛顿智囊机构全球发展中心贸易问题专家金伯利?艾略特则认为:"在贸易问题上,没有哪个国家在贸易保护方面是清白的。几乎所有国家都在不同 程度上违背G20会议上就有关不采取贸易扭曲措施所达成的共识。"

中国并未对此消息做出明确回应,但商务部网站12日发表声明,谴责国际上正在出现形形色色的 贸易保护主义措施,并称,"在国际贸易保护主义加剧的背景下,中国作为世界第三大贸易实体和第二大出口国,成为国际贸易摩擦的主要对象"。记者查阅大不列 颠百科全书的"出口征税"词条发现,这一措施最早被英国使用,用于对羊毛和皮革的出口征税。词条说,"出口征税是有效地保护本国工业的措施。比如挪威和瑞 典对林业产品出口征税,以鼓励本国采矿、木材制造和造纸业。"


"美国和欧洲的做法没有道理,"中国世贸组织研究会常务理事周世俭告诉《环球时报》记者,欧 美希望中国把资源敞开卖,卖光为止,它们好买便宜的。然而,保护资源、保护环境是天然合理的。"美国不许出口本国野生西洋参,加拿大不许出口祖母绿宝石, 日本连可再生的木材都不能出口……各国都在保护自己的资源,中国怎么就不能呢?"周世俭认为,欧美的要求违背了WTO的基本规则。他说,WTO强调的是不 能限制进口,让市场放开,而没有具体规定出口应该如何,更没有要求让资源放开卖。"如果中国企业将资源产品放开卖,那势必会干扰国际有色金属市场的秩序, 同样会有人不满,前一阵国际上频发反倾销调查就可以看出这样的恶果。中国的做法其实有利于市场调节。"


"中国现在的资源状况很紧张。"周世俭告诉记者,国土资源部曾有报告称,中国现代化所需要的 矿产资源里,2000年有45种,到2020年只能剩下6种。"中国是个发展中大国,矿产资源非常宝贵,因此国家对资源进行有效的管理非常必要。"周世俭 表示,国家的做法有利于保护环境,充分利用资源。但也有专家认为,中国更适宜通过资源税而非外贸政策来促进环保节能。 (本文来源:环球时报 )

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