US, other countries file trade complaint against China

The Office of U.S. Trade Representative, along with officials in the European Union and Japan, have filed a trade complaint against China over what they're calling unfair export restraints on rare earths and other elements used in the manufacturing of mobile phones, laptops and MP3 players.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, along with the E.U. and Japan, requested consultations with China at the World Trade Organization over the nation's export quotas and pricing requirements on rare earth metals as well as tungsten and molybdenum, the USTR announced. The materials are used in a wide range of U.S. made products, including electronics, automobiles, petroleum, hybrid car batteries and wind turbines, the USTR said.

China produces more than 95 percent of , according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process, according to the USTR. Under WTO rules, if the matter is not resolved through consultations within 60 days, the parties requesting the consultation may request a WTO dispute settlement panel.

"America's workers and manufacturers are being hurt in both established and budding industrial sectors by these policies," Kirk said in a statement. "China continues to make its export restraints more restrictive, resulting in massive distortions and harmful disruptions in supply chains for these materials throughout the global marketplace."

A representative of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.