GENEVA, July 23 (Xinhua) -- The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday established a panel to consider China's exports of Rare Earths, Tungsten and Molybdenum at the requests of the United States, the European Union (EU) and Japan.
The United States, the EU and Japan brought similar complaints to the WTO on March 13 this year, claiming that China has put up improper export restrictions of various raw materials including rare earths.
Formal consultations were held afterwards under the WTO dispute settlement framework, but failed.
As requested by the three complaining parties on Monday, the separate complaints will merge into one and to be considered by the single panel.
The panel is expected to hear from both sides of the dispute, and come up with a report on the case, a process normally takes up to six months.
China would carefully study the three parties' requests to resolve the dispute over rare earth export restrictions, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said late last month.
The Chinese spokesman reiterated that China's rare earth policies are aimed at protecting environmental resources and achieving sustainable development in the industry, saying that "we have no intention of protecting our domestic industry through means that will distort foreign trade."
Rare earth are a group of 17 chimerical elements that are vital for manufacturing an array of high-tech products, including cell phones, wind turbines, electric car batteries and missiles.
China supplies more than 90 percent of rare earth products on the global market, although its reserves only account for about one-third of the world's total. The mining of rare earth metals has been blamed for environmental damage in some parts of China.
A white paper published by the Information Office of the State Council earlier in June said China would continue to intensify regulations for the rare earth sector while supplying the global market in line with WTO rules.
Stricter environmental standards and protective exploitation policies would be implemented for the rare earth industry, the white paper added.