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File photo of an auto parts plant in Ontario.Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

Canadian auto parts makers say they won't be pressing Ottawa to join a U.S. trade challenge of Chinese subsidies.

The United States filed a sweeping trade case against China at the World Trade Organization Monday, alleging the country illegally subsidized exports of cars and auto parts to the tune of more than $1-billion between 2009 and 2011.

In spite of the highly integrated North American auto industry, parts makers in Canada aren't lobbying the federal government to take action against Chinese imports.

"There's nothing planned on the Canadian side," said Steve Rodgers, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association.

Canada can apply to join the WTO case as a third-party intervenor. But no decision has been made to do that.

"As a strong supporter of a rules-based trading system, we are following this issue closely to ensure that the interests of Canadians continue to be defended," said Adam Taylor, a spokesman for Trade Minister Ed Fast.

Chinese imports are less of a competitive threat now than they were three or four years, Mr. Rodgers pointed out. "The situation has improved," he said.

Among other things, Chinese costs are rising and the yuan is worth more now.

The U.S. case appears to be timed in part to bolster U.S. President Barack Obama's electoral chances in key battleground states, such as Ohio, where the auto industry supports 850,000 jobs. Thousands of jobs in parts making, auto assembly and steel have disappeared since the 2008 recession.

Within hours of the U.S. case being filed, China responded with a case of its own – alleging unfair calculation by the U.S. of tariffs in anti-subsidy cases.

The European Union recently filed a major anti-dumping case over Chinese solar panels.

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