By: Elena Grace Flores
The United States has lodged a trade complaint against China for charging illegal export duties on raw materials, trade officials said Wednesday morning ahead of a San Diego speech by Vice President Joe Biden. The grievance filed with the World Trade Organization said China’s fees had violated an agreement with the organization and hurt U.S. companies. Michael Froman, U.S trade representative, told reporters on a conference call that the U.S. wants to remove China’s export duties ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent on antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum and tin.
He said Chinese businesses do not have to pay the fees on the raw materials and that the duties are designed to put American companies at a disadvantage. In response, a spokesman for China’s federal government said the U.S. was abusing the WTO process for resolving trade disputes. “Opposing protectionism in trade is a consensus of international community,” said Zhu Haiquan, a spokesman at China’s embassy in Washington, D.C. “China urges the United States to strictly abide by the WTO rules, and restrain from abusing of trade remedy measures.”
Biden is expected to speak about the action at 1:15 p.m. to members of the media at the Unified Port of San Diego. U.S. trade officials declined to comment on the political considerations of the speech. President Barack Obama has endorsed Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, who has criticized previous trade deals along with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. In February, Obama signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a treaty that would expand trade among 12 Pacific Rim nations — excluding China. Clinton and Trump have opposed the deal, which Obama has not submitted to the Senate for ratification. Froman said the Obama Administration has taken 12 actions against China with the World Trade Organization and won all of them; as reported by San Diego Union Tribune.