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The United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU) have challenged China's export restrictions on rare earth materials, requesting dispute settlement consultations from the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the first WTO case filed jointly by the parties, they argue that China is driving up the prices of rare earth, crucial to the development of renewable energy technologies, by limiting exports. China has said it enforced the quotas to ensure there was no environmental damage from excessive mining, and the industry minister said that the nation is "sorry for their decision to complain to the WTO." In 2010, China mined about 97 percent of world supply, and critics of China's export restrictions say that it unfairly helps Chinese companies. The government has maintained that China has followed WTO rules. The complaint follows a ruling earlier this year in favor of the EU, which found that China had illegally restricted exports of other raw materials. "Despite the clear ruling of the WTO in our first dispute on raw materials, China has made no attempt to remove the other export restrictions," said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. For the full story, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17348648, http://www.voanews.com/learningenglish/home/business/Limits-on-Rare-Earth-Exports-Get-China-in-Trade-Dispute-142867465.html, and http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/usa/2012-03/16/content_14850038.htm.