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September 26, 2007

United States accuses China of price fixing

GENEVA

The United States has accused China of manipulating prices on the raw materials used to produce steel, chemicals, airplanes and automobiles to give Chinese manufacturers a massive advantage over their American competitors.

But a U.S. trade official said Washington voiced its objections to the World Trade Organization to get the issue on the record, and not necessarily to prepare for a formal complaint. Beijing, the world’s largest producer of a number of industrial commodities, drives up costs for companies outside China by limiting its export of the raw materials, the U.S. told the WTO’s 151 members in a submission earlier this month.

At the same time, the export restrictions ensure an oversupply of commodities on the Chinese market, keeping costs low for domestic producers of ceramics, semiconductor chips, fibre-optic cables and numerous other goods, according to Washington.

As a result, American companies are forced to pay significantly more than Chinese firms for key steel ingredients such as coke, tin, zinc and rare earths; semiconductor materials such as antimony and silicon; tungsten for mining and construction; and fluorspar, magnesium carbonate and talc.

Associated Press

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