Countries Hunt for Rare Minerals to Offset Imports from China
A front loader lifts soil containing rare earth minerals in Jiangsu, China. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
February 22, 2012
| Economics
China’s recent decision to cut off exports of rare earth elements has the United States, Japan and Germany scrambling to renew production of these metals, which are essential to their defense and aerospace industries.Complicating matters is a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that Beijing violated global trading rules by issuing export restrictions on raw materials exports in order to inflate prices to give domestic Chinese firms an unfair competitive advantage. The ruling came in response to legal cases filed in 2009 by the United States, European Union and Mexico.  Even though the ruling did not apply directly to rare earth elements, there are parallels that can be drawn.  The actions ruled illegal by the WTO with respect to raw materials more broadly are the same ones Beijing is pursuing with respect to rare earth elements.
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