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China defends export restrictions

BEIJING, June 15 – China on Monday defended moves to restrict exports of some raw materials, saying it was acting to protect the environment, as it reacted to a report the US and European Union will launch a WTO action.

Officials from Brussels and Washington are preparing to take Beijing to the World Trade Organization with the aim of formally seeking consultation on June 22, the first step in opening a case, according to a European source last week.

But China\’s commerce ministry spokesman Yao Jian said: "Taxing exports of some high energy-consuming and pollutant goods is to improve the world\’s trade environment and China\’s export structure, and to further enhance environmental protection measures."

"There is no perfect trade policy. We can\’t pursue full and complete environmental protection measures while requiring that prices are not affected," he told reporters.

"We have to prioritise the common interests of the public… and countries in the world," he said.

The EU and US move concerns about 20 types of raw materials, including copper and bauxite, that China was applying export restrictions on in the form of quotas and tariffs.

Yao said the Chinese side would handle the consultation with the relevant countries "positively with an aim to reach a consensus".

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