By Tom Miles
GENEVA (Reuters) - The European Union said on Thursday it had lodged a complaint at the World Trade Organisation against China's imposition of anti-dumping duties on imports of stainless steel tubes, six months after Japan filed a similar case.
The complaint centers on high-quality steel products that China needs to build new power plants, crucial for its plans to upgrade and clean up its electricity infrastructure.
China's steel industry, by far the biggest in the world, found it could not produce the same products as cheaply as its Japanese and European rivals. Beijing suspected the imports were being priced unfairly and imposed anti-dumping tariffs.
"The EU believes the anti-dumping duties are incompatible with WTO law, both on procedural and on substantive grounds," it said in a statement. "The duties of 9.7 percent to 11.1 percent imposed on European products are significantly hampering access to the Chinese market."
The legal move confirms a plan that EU sources had disclosed to Reuters on Tuesday and it follows a series of tit-for-tat trade actions fuelled by a dispute over China's huge exports of cheap solar power components.
It also sets the clock ticking on the WTO's legal process, which gives China up to 60 days to hold talks with the EU to try and deal with its complaint. But the EU said Japan's discussions with China, which the EU attended, had failed.
(Reporting by Tom Miles, editing by Gareth Jones)