* U.S. concerned China "breaking its trade commitments"
* U.S. consultation research starts 60-day clock
* Senator Grassley urges USTR also file currency case
(Adds details, Grassley comments)
By Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON, Sept 15 The U.S. Trade
Representative's office said on Wednesday it has filed two new
cases against China at the World Trade Organization for alleged
violations of global trade rules, adding to U.S.-China tensions
over economic and foreign policy issues.
One case covers Chinese trade barriers that discriminate
against American credit and debit card companies that want to
participate in China's electronic payments market, U.S. Trade
Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.
The other case challenges anti-dumping and countervailing
duties China has imposed on a specialty steel product from the
United States, Kirk said.
The request for formal consultations with Beijing on the
two disputes came as the Obama administration is under pressure
from Congress to take tougher action against China on a number
of trade fronts. [ID:nN15135709]
Under WTO rules, the United States can ask for a pair of
WTO panels to hear its complaints if the two sides cannot
resolve the disagreement within 60 days.
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate
are expected to grill U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
in separate hearings on Thursday on why the administration has
not labeled China a currency manipulator or filed a case at the
WTO against China's currency practices.
"We are concerned that China is breaking its trade
commitments to the United States and other WTO partners," Kirk
said in announcing the two cases.
Kirk accused China of failing to honor a WTO commitment to
open its electronic payments market.
"The Chinese government committed to open this financial
service market four years ago -- but instead, the Chinese
government is giving China Union Pay a monopoly over most
credit and debit card transactions by Chinese consumers," Kirk
"China's actions unfairly deprive U.S. credit and debit
card companies of access to a huge market."
In the second case, he accused China of imposing
anti-dumping and countervailing duties on U.S. grain oriented
flat-rolled electrical steel (GOES) to "harass U.S. exports."
"The duties imposed by China have raised the price of
hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of American steel headed
into China, with the practical effect of reducing or blocking
exports of our steel to that country. China must not abuse WTO
procedures to protect its market," Kirk said.
U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle
applauded the action, but Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa
Republican, said it wasn't enough.
"The administration should go one step further and bring a
case against China's unfair currency manipulation at the WTO.
Everyone knows China is manipulating its currency to gain an
unfair advantage in international trade," Grassley said.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Xavier Briand and Jerry