PARIS - The World Trade Organisation has concluded that restrictions by China on the export of rare earths are not in line with WTO rules, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The newspaper cited sources in countries which have challenged the Chinese measures but said the WTO had not yet issued its findings.
The WTO declined to comment.
Japan's ministry of economy, trade and industry confirmed the existence of an interim report but could not comment on its contents, including the ruling.
A final report was expected around year-end, a ministry spokesman said.
China accounts for 95 per cent of the global production of rare earths, a term covering 17 metals which are vital for many industrial and high-tech processes such as the production of smartphones and low-energy light bulbs.
On July 2, China announced that it would apply a quota for exports of rare earths for the second half of 2013 on the same basis as a quota in the first half of the year.
The United States, the European Union and Japan complained to the WTO in March, arguing that the Chinese rare earths industry was seeking to benefit improperly from a dominant market position.