U.S. near decision on WTO case on China auto parts


WASHINGTON, March 28 (Reuters) - The United States is close to a decision on whether to take China to the World Trade Organization over what it views as discriminatory treatment of foreign auto parts, a U.S. spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

"We have had extensive conversations with China on this issue and we have worked through the process in trying to bring a resolution through talks," said Christin Baker, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Trade Representative's office.

"The U.S. hasn't made a decision yet on what the next step is," but is nearing one, she added.

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman has repeatedly warned that the United States could take China to the WTO if it continues what Washington considers discriminatory treatment of foreign auto parts.

The European Union has been pressing China on the issue as well and is also believed to be nearing a decision -- possibly in concert with the United States -- on whether to challenge Beijing at the WTO.

They contend the high tariffs China imposes on foreign auto parts exceeding a certain quantity violate WTO rules by setting a domestic content requirement for Chinese cars.

Portman told Reuters in an interview two weeks ago China had not budged on the issue, but Washington would continue to press Beijing for a while longer before taking the matter to the WTO.

"We're going to give them the opportunity to do the right thing, but if they won't then we won't have any choice but to go to the WTO," Portman said.



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