GENEVA  - Pakistan launched a trade dispute at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday to challenge the European Union’s punitive duties on Pakistani exports of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the WTO said in a statement.

Pakistan says the EU has broken WTO rules in the way that it imposed anti-subsidy duties on PET, which is used in synthetic fibres, plastic bottles and food containers.

Under WTO rules, the EU has 60 days to try to settle the dispute in direct talks, after which Pakistan could escalate the issue by asking the WTO to set up a panel to adjudicate.

Pakistan’s exports of PET were worth just over $200 million last year, according to data from the International Trade Center, a UN-WTO joint venture. Although its exports have grown, sales to the EU have dwindled in the past few years.

The EU accounted for over 80 percent of Pakistan’s foreign sales of PET a decade ago, but less than 10 percent of Pakistani PET exports went to the EU in 2013, a tiny slice of the EU’s $4.3 billion imports of the material.

The dispute is the first that Pakistan has initiated in almost a decade and its first against the EU. It previously launched three disputes - two against the United States and one against Egypt, which was settled in 2006.