The Obama administration filed two trade cases Wednesday against China, covering electronic payments and steel duties.
The payment processing case involves companies such as Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc.
China doesn't let foreign companies issue their own bank cards denominated in its currency, build networks to support such cards or process transactions. Foreign banks must cobrand with Chinese operators to supply these services and send payments through the country's only payments network, China UnionPay.
Those rules run counter to the pledge China made when it joined the WTO in 2001 to open up its credit and debit card market to foreign processing companies by the end of 2006, according to the U.S. complaint.
China "did not make any commitment regarding the supply of payments and clearing services by foreign nonfinancial institutions" when it joined the trade arbiter, the Chinese government said at a 2007 WTO meeting.
Payment processing in China is a $723 billion business, Terry Xie, an analyst at Mercator Advisory Group, a research firm in Maynard, Mass., said earlier this year. China will overtake the U.S. as the largest market for credit cards by 2020 with 900 million cards in circulation, MasterCard said.
The steel case involves dumping and duties on flat-rolled steel.