BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON - The European Union, United States and Japan formally asked the World Trade Organization on Tuesday to settle a dispute with China over Beijing's restriction on exports of raw materials, including rare earth elements critical to electronics makers.
The dispute is one of several between Beijing and the other three economic powers, as Chinese industry remoulds the world economic order. It is the first case to be jointly filed by the EU, United States and Japan at the WTO, an EU official said.
EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said the three trading powers were making a dispute settlement request - the first step before filing a full trade case.
"China's restrictions on rare earths and other products violate international trade rules and must be removed," De Gucht said in a statement.
"These measures hurt our producers and consumers in the EU and across the world, including manufacturers of pioneering hi-tech and 'green' business applications."
Beijing said the export curbs were motivated by environmental concerns and said it would defend itself.