The Trade Commission of the European Union (EU) has filed a
third case with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against
China’s export duties on a range of metals and
minerals, the supply of which is crucial to the regions
According to the EU body, the restrictions on 11 critical
raw materials including graphite, cobalt, copper, lead,
chromium, magnesia, talc, tantalum, tin, antimony and indium,
are against WTO rulings.
Cecilia Malmström, Trade Commissioner at the EU, said
in a statement that the EU producers and consumers have been
hit by unfair trading practices. "The past two WTO rulings on
Chinese export restrictions have been crystal clear - these
measures are against international trade rules. As we do not
see China advancing to remove them all, we must take legal
action," she said.
This is the third legal case the EU has filed against China
on the similar grounds after winning two legal suits in 2012
It follows similar a action launched by the US trade
authorities last week challenging China on the enforcement of
export duties on nine essential raw materials.
However, China’s Ministry of Commerce has
rejected the challenges made by the US and the EU, arguing that
it has always respected WTO rules and that the measures are
necessary to support an environmentally friendly and
sustainable production of raw materials.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it "regrets" the
actions taken by the US and EU "and will appropriately handle
it according to WTO dispute resolution procedures".
China currently imposes a set of export restrictions,
including export duties and quotas that limit access to these
essential raw materials which are crucial to a variety of
industries such as batteries, paints, chemicals, plastics and
At present, China dominates the market as a low-cost
producer and supplier of different raw materials, which has
raised concerns among economies across the world fearing higher
prices for essential metals and minerals required for their
Nabaltec’s US ATH plant to shut for
German functional fillers producer Nabaltec AG is to halt
production at its US subsidiary Nashtec LLC for up to one year
following the discontinuation of supply from bankrupt producer
Sherwin Alumina, which announced closure in August.
Sherwin Alumina’s Texas plant supplies raw
material to Nashtec, which the latter employs in the production
of precipitated aluminium hydroxide (ATH) for application as
flame-retardant filler, serving the North American market.
Nabaltec told IM that the Nashtec plant,
based in Corpus Christi, Texas, will stop production "at some
point in September", and that the hiatus will continue pending
an agreement on how the plant will operate in the future.
"Production would stop for 9-12 months," Gerhard Witzany,
member of the board at Nabaltec AG, told IM in
"As long as Shwerwin produces, we keep producing. Their
production should stop towards the end of August/beginning of
The temporary closure will continue until
Nashtec’s owners – a joint venture
between majority owner Nabaltec and Allied Alumina, part of
Glencore – find a solution to run the site as a
standalone ATH plant, IM was told.
The Corpus Christi facility has a 25,000 tpa fine
precipitated hydrate capacity.
During the operational stoppage, Nashtec’s
customers will be supplied directly by Nabaltec from the
Schwandorf plant in Germany. Capacity at the plant has been
increased to accommodate higher volumes to serve the additional
"Nashtec produces only one quality of ATH, which is APYRAL
40CD. In this sense, it is overall manageable to [supply that
range] from the German plant," said Witzany.
He added that while the company would not incur any
particular costs from the altered route, it will have to manage
substantial changes in lead and delivery times. While freight
from Corpus Christi to Boston is about five days, from Europe
it is four to five weeks.
"The lead time will increase: customers will have to place
orders earlier, and we’ll have to prepare earlier
so as to deliver [within the customers’
timeframe]," he said.
Despite the closure of the US facility, the company remains
focused on increasing its overall production capacity to supply
the flame retardants sector, as it told IM
earlier this year.
"As soon as we find a solution for Nashtec to return to
production, we will be able to up capacity," Witzany said.