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限制稀有金属出口值得肯定  

2009-06-30 22:59:58|  分类: 外贸观察 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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国际贸易保护又起争端,最近美国和欧盟对于中国限制出口稀有金属问题提起诉讼,以下路透的英文报道称中国这一政策将损害别国生产商的利益,换句话说就是欧美从中国获取廉价原材料的盛宴宣告结束,欧美力图通过与中国谈判并提起诉讼来迫使中国改变或放弃。事实上,具备国际贸易常识的人都知道,通过关税、配额、价格等措施来保护稀有资源是每个国家的明智选择,不仅是实现资源配置的手段,也是欧美国家的通常做法。这一次,我们欣喜地看到类似政策的出台,无论是否违背WTO的贸易原则,仍然为此击掌叫好。

中国的对外贸易政策一直饱受诟病,过去的争端主要集中于反倾销、反补贴等方面,理由是中国制造的低价商品影响到欧美国家的相关产业和劳动力就业,而当中国对这些战略商品限制出口时,反对的声音却是提高原材料价格使得欧美生产商利润降低。庆幸的是,这一次商务部给了明确的还击,不但说明了没有违背贸易规则的理由,还提出2004年禽流感事件以来中国已经取消禽类进口的禁令,但美国至今仍未履行诺言。

关于此次争端的外电(路透)和中国日报的报道对此事持明显不同的观点,值得关注。

 

US, EU charges on export curbs rejected(来源:chinadaily)

The government yesterday dismissed charges by the United States and Europe that its restrictions on exports of some raw materials violate international trade rules, saying that its policies were in keeping with World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations and meant to protect valuable natural resources.

"The main purpose of certain export measures is to protect the environment and precious resources. These policies are in line with WTO rules," the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the US and the EU said they were filing a complaint with the WTO about China raising the export tax and reducing export quotas on some raw materials - in force since 2007 - arguing the policy is not in line with China's commitments when it joined the WTO in 2001.

The export curbs on some industrial raw materials harm their downstream producers, including steelmakers, chipmakers and the aerospace industry, they said.

This is the first WTO case the Barack Obama administration has filed, and Canadian officials said they had not ruled out joining the case.

Nine raw materials are listed in their complaints: Coke, bauxite, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorus and zinc. They include a range of strategic minor metals used in applications such as alloys, ceramics, mobile phones and light bulbs.

The appeal comes after Washington and Brussels failed in the past two years to persuade China to lift the restrictions.

China has rich deposits of the nine raw materials. Annually, the nation accounts for 50 percent of global coke exports, 50 of the fluorspar, and 30 percent of zinc.

Under the WTO dispute-resolution framework, the US and the EU will first seek consultations with China. If they cannot reach consensus within 60 days, they have the right to ask the WTO to appoint a panel to hear the complaint.

"It's very much hoped that we will not have to proceed to the next stage," US Trade Representative Ron Kirk told a press conference on Tuesday in Washington.

In the 1990s, China extended tax rebates to stimulate the exports of some rare metals. But as outbound trade soared, the government increased the export tax on specific rare metals thrice since 2005, with 2007 seeing the biggest jump.

According to EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton, "the Chinese restrictions distort competition and increase global prices, making things even more difficult for our companies in this economic downturn".

But Chinese trade experts challenged the argument.

"Although WTO rules say members should not set barriers on imports and exports, some specific cases concerning national safety, environmental protection and natural resources are considered exceptions," said Fu Donghui, managing director of Allbright Law Firm Beijing. China's rare metals had been exported at an unreasonably low price, which led to huge losses in precious natural resources, said Chen Gong, senior analyst from Anbound Group. "Restrictions are vital."

In the past two years, exports have seen a decline, said Liu Yinan, vice-chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers & Exporters.

The commerce ministry also said yesterday that China has asked the WTO to investigate a US ban on imports of Chinese poultry, saying it's a discriminatory measure.

In 2004, the two countries banned imports of each other's poultry following an outbreak of bird flu. China lifted its ban after a few months, but the US has failed to implement its promise to open its market.

 EU, US take China to WTO on materials-sources(来源:REUTERS)

Reuters, Thursday June 11 2009

By Darren Ennis

BRUSSELS, June 11 (Reuters) - The European Union and the United States will take action against China at the World Trade Organisation this month over export restrictions on around 20 industrial raw materials, EU and industry sources said.

The sources told Reuters that Brussels and Washington would formally request consultations with Beijing on the issue on June 22 after failing to persuade China to reduce its export tariffs and increase quotas during talks over the past 12 months.

If these talks fail, the next step would be to request that a WTO panel hear the complaint. Such a step could take years and prove costly for either side in terms of litigation.

The European Commission, which oversees trade policy for the 27-nation EU, and the United States Trade Representative's office declined to comment on the Reuters story.

"This is a confidential process and for legal reasons I cannot comment," a Commission spokesman said.

The Chinese mission in Brussels also declined to give its reaction to the news.

The action is expected further to damage already brittle trade relations with China.

Trade disputes between Brussels and Beijing are on the rise since the EU's trade deficit with China has ballooned. Brussels has imposed a number of anti-dumping tariffs on imports of Chinese goods ranging from shoes to steel products.

EU exports to China rose to 78 billion euros ($106.3 billion) in 2008 from 26 billion euros in 2000, while imports from China rose to 248 billion euros from 75 billion euros over the same period.

The EU and United States say China has continued to restrict exports of raw materials used in steel, semiconductors, aircraft and other products despite Beijing's pledge to eliminate taxes and charges on exports when it joined the WTO in 2001. The United States is expected to show the largest decline in steel demand in the post-war period with apparent steel use likely to drop 36.6 percent in 2009.

Europe is expected to see a decline of over 25 percent in 2009, according to the World Steel Association.

UNFAIR QUOTAS

The materials expected to be covered by the case include yellow phosphorous, antimony, bauxite, coke, fluorspar, indium, magnesium carbonate, molybdenum, rare earths, silicon, talc, tin, tungsten and zinc.

"China has been placing unfair export quotas and taxes on these raw materials which are distorting the global market and hindering European and U.S. companies," an EU source said.

"It is violating its commitments as a member of the WTO."

The sources said the list of materials had yet to be finalised by Brussels and Washington. The number "will be in the region of 20", one source said.

The European Commission -- which oversees trade policy in the 27-nation EU -- will inform member states at a meeting on Friday of its decision to challenge China at the WTO.

"Member states, notably Germany and France, have been chomping at the bit for over a year to mount a case," a diplomat familiar with preparations for Friday's meeting said.

CHEMICAL SECTOR

European and U.S. steelmakers accuse China of giving its own steel companies an unfair advantage by restricting exports of coke and other materials used to make steel.

"If the US and the EU did indeed file a WTO case against China on raw material export restrictions, we welcome this action," a spokeswoman for the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) said.

"U.S. steel producers have long believed that this government of China policy is a WTO violation and that it is benefiting Chinese manufacturers artificially while disadvantaging manufacturers everywhere else."

European industry also has objected to China's use of export curbs to drive down domestic raw material costs at the expense of foreign producers.

Europe's chemical sector is particularly unhappy with Beijing's decision last year to impose a 120 percent tax on yellow phosphorous.

Phosphorus is crucial for the chemical industry and is used in many products including fire extinguishers and detergents.

"This tax is killing us. It costs us in Europe around $2,500 more per metric tonne than Chinese producers," a European chemical industry official said.

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