Pic: AP.

GENEVA (AP) — The United States is claiming victory in what it calls a major trade dispute with China over its curbs on exports of rare earths, the minerals used in mobile phones, hybrid cars, flat-screen TVs and other high-tech products.

U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman says a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel has agreed with the U.S. argument in the 2012 case that China’s limits on its exports of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum are in breach of trade rules.

Froman said in a statement Wednesday that Beijing discriminated against U.S. companies and caused American manufacturers to pay as much as three times more than what their Chinese competitors pay for the same materials, in violation of WTO rules.

The panel’s report may be adopted or appealed within 60 days.

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