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US may take China to the WTO over Rare Earth Mineral Export Restrictions

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First the European Union raised an alarm over shortage of 14 materials used in new age Green Industries most of which are found in China.Now the US is thinking of taking over the issue from the EU as it mulls options to take the case to the WTO ( World Trade Organization).China has 97% of the world’s deposits of Rare Earth Minerals which are used in Green and High Technology sectors quite extensively.Abundant and low cost supply of these minerals will give a huge advantage to a country’s Green Companies.China hopes to cash in on its large mineral deposits as the leader in Clean Technology would probably lead the world’s economy in the future.

US and China relations are already tenuous over currency valuation and this case can only add more fire.Note a WTO case won’t solve this issue as WTO really lacks teeth in enforcing any infringements of its trade rules.Its more of a mediation body which at most allows retaliatory measures.China has already brought in the environmental argument for its export restrictions  as illegal mining has led to severe degradation.The mining of these elements leads to severe ecological effects which makes it very costly to operate these mines in Developed Countries with stringent safety regulations.However some of these mines are set to open as the price of these rare earth minerals shoots through the roof.

China Rare Earth Limits Said to Be Targeted by U.S. – Bloomberg

China’s restrictions on the export of rare earths used in the manufacture of cell phones and radar are being targeted by the U.S. Trade Representative for a potential trade case, according to industry representatives.The U.S. has asked business groups and unions to provide evidence that China is hoarding these elements for a case that may be filed at the World Trade Organization, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks were confidential.China controls 97 percent of production of the materials, known as rare earth elements, giving it “market power” over the U.S., the Government Accountability Office said in a report in April. China restricts exports of the elements through quotas and export taxes of as much as 25 percent, the GAO said.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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