The USA and European Union have officially accused China of restricting their exports of raw materials, for the benefit of their own manufacturers. China currently has restrictions on nine materials used for making steel. US trade representative Ron Kirk has requested the World Trade Organisation resolve the issue after they were unable to convince China to lift the restrictions. Kirk said restricting trade in this manner was at the expense of US industries that need the materials: "We are deeply troubled that this appears to be a conscious policy to create unfair preferences for Chinese industries ... by making raw materials cheaper for China's companies to get, and goods more economical for them to produce." The European Union has filed a similar complaint. "The Chinese restrictions on raw materials distort competition and increase global prices, making things even more difficult for our companies in this economic downturn," said EU trade commissioner Catherine Ashton. Under WTO rules, China now has 60 days to meet with both parties to resolve the dispute, or may face a WTO panel for a formal ruling on the matter.