WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. government has requested dispute settlement consultations with China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China's subsidies to automobiles, a senior trade official said Monday.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the federal government was challenging China's extensive subsidies to auto and auto parts producers located in designated regions, known as "export bases," that meet export performance requirements.
China's subsidies, prohibited under WTO rules, provide an unfair advantage for auto and auto parts manufacturers located in China, which are competing with U.S. producers, Kirk said in a statement.
"Export bases" had made at least 1 billion U.S. dollars in subsidies available to auto and auto parts exporters in China from 2009 to 2011, he added.
Consultations are the first step in a WTO dispute. Under WTO rules, if parties do not resolve a matter through consultations within 60 days, a WTO dispute settlement panel might be established at request.
"We are in a position to address this trade problem because the administration's newly created Interagency Trade Enforcement Center has provided crucial investigative and analytical resources to this effort," Kirk said.
This is the latest trade enforcement action by the United States against China. In recent years, the Obama administration has initiated a series of trade actions over China's wind power equipment, industrial raw materials and so on.
Separately, the United States on Monday also requested the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel to address China's imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on U.S. car exports.
The Chinese government has repeatedly urged the United States to abide by its commitment against protectionism and maintain a free, open and just international trade environment.