WTO to rule on China-EU metal fasteners dispute

GENEVA: The World Trade Organisation decided Friday to rule on a dispute between China and the European Union over anti-dumping measures imposed by Brussels on imports of Chinese-made screws and bolts.

"The panel was established," said a trade source after a meeting of WTO members, referring to the trade body's dispute settlement panel.

China had sought consultations with the EU on the issue in July but Beijing said their discussions "failed to lead to a satisfactory resolution of the matter."

During a meeting of the WTO's dispute settlement body on Friday, China called on the organisation to set up a panel of experts to rule on the case.

Its envoy also urged the EU to "promptly withdraw rules and measures inconsistent with the WTO and cease the disturbance to Sino-EC trade and impairment of China's interests."

The European Union agreed to WTO arbitration, as it had "no reason to be hopeful that a mutually agreed solution can still be found."

"The European Community is strongly convinced of the strength of its case. We stand ready to defend our measures that we consider to be fully consistent with WTO law," an EU diplomat told the meeting.

The dispute arose after a final European Commission decision in January to impose hefty tariffs on imports of some Chinese steel and iron fasteners, ranging from 26.5 percent to as high as 85 percent.

China is the world's biggest producer of screws, nuts, bolts and washers, while the European Union is its biggest market.

The EU imported 575 million euros (762 million dollars) worth of Chinese fasteners in 2007, according to the Jiaxing Association of Chinese Fastener Producers.

EU-China trade has exploded in recent years, making the EU the top destination for Chinese exports while China is Europe's biggest trade partner after the United States.