The WTO ruling against China’s export restrictions on 9 raw materials have spurred speculation that China’s restriction on rare earth export may be the next target.
Li Chenggang, Head of Treaty and Law Department of the State Council, said China’s export management for rare earth products is largely the same with that of the 9 raw materials involved in the WTO ruling, which means WTO Appellate Body and Panel may draw the same conclusion for China’s rare earth export restriction.
According to Li Chenggang, the WTO Appellate Body did not deny legitimacy of China’s environment and exhaustible resources protection aims, but suitability of measures used to achieve such aims. It on the other hand means measures to protect environment can still be used.
WTO rules allow use of measures to protect exhaustible resources as long as domestic production or consumption is also being restricted by such measures.
China launched a series of industry and environmental protection policies during recent years to better regulate rare earth mining, production and processing. Special invoices for rare earth products are also being prepared to constrain domestic production.
Li Chenggang said China is prepared to respond to actions taken by some WTO members on China’s rare earth export, with exactly WTO rules and procedures.