WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today applauded an announcement from the Obama Administration that it will challenge China on its hoarding of rare earth materials. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the United States has requested consultations with China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s unfair export restraints on rare earths, as well as tungsten and molybdenum. Consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process, and parties are encouraged to agree to a solution at this stage. Under WTO rules, if the matter is not resolved through consultations within 60 days, the United States may request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel. The European Union and Japan also requested WTO consultations with China on this matter today.
“Rare earth hoarding is one of the many illegal trade practices that China employs tilt the playing field in its own favor. Enough is enough,” Brown said. “We need to stand up to China’s fraudulent practices by challenging the country’s refusal to export rare earths. Should China fail to address its hoarding in the consultation process, I urge USTR to initiate a trade case. We must use all available tools to protect Ohio and American jobs and manufacturers.”
Brown, along with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), recently called on the Obama Administration’s top trade advisor, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, to protect Ohio manufacturers by initiating a WTO case on China’s hoarding of rare earth materials. Brown also pressed Chinese Vice President Xi on the issue in a meeting last month and in a letter to Vice President Biden upon the announcement of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center. In addition, as a conferee to the Fiscal Year 2012 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations package, Brown successfully pushed an amendment to boost USTR trade enforcement funding to take more cases against China, including on rare earths.
Ohio and American manufacturers rely on rare earth materials for the production of a number of products, including wind turbines, lighting, and electronics. China currently accounts for 97 percent of the world’s supply of these materials, and have imposed quotas and heavy tariffs on their export, putting American manufacturers at a severe disadvantage. As a result, China’s policy unfairly incentivizes American manufacturers to move production to China. Chairman and CEO of Cleveland-based GrafTech International Craig Shular said: “As an Ohio-based manufacturing company with roughly 80% of our sales outside of the United States, GrafTech has a keen interest in protecting our ability to compete aggressively in the global marketplace. Obtaining key raw materials at a reasonable cost is critical to our mission.”