Rare Earth elementsU.S. files trade charges against China over rare minerals

Published 15 March 2012

China mines and sells about 97 percent of the world’s rare Earth elements – seventeen metals used in cell phones, advanced batteries, wind turbines, and more; the Chinese, in  violation of WTO rules, have manipulated the export of these minerals in order to weaken the techno logy sectors of other countries, and punish countries over political disputes

U.S and China locked in trade battle // Source: profitline.hu

On Tuesday President Barack Obama took the unusual step of personally announcing that the United States was filing a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO against China over the latter’s rare Earth elements policy.

Bloombergreports that the Obama administration has filed five WTO complaints against China since taking office three years ago, compared with seven complaints filed by the Bush administration from 2001, when China joined the Geneva- based WTO, through the end of his term in early 2009.

WTO judges on 30 January rejected China’s appeal of a ruling that found restrictions on exports of nine raw materials including coke, zinc, and bauxite break global rules and give the country’s manufacturers an unfair edge over competitors.

Technology companies around the world consume about 33,000 tons of rare Earth metals a year. China mines and sells about 31,130 tons of that.

The U.S. action against China is joined by Japan and several European allies.

The president said:

We want our companies building those products [ranging from advanced batteries that power everything from hybrid cars to cell phones] right here in America.  But to do that, American manufacturers need to have access to rare earth materials — which China supplies.  Now, if China would simply let the market work on its own, we’d have no objections.  But their policies currently are preventing that from happening.  And they go against the very rules that China agreed to follow.

Being able to manufacture advanced batteries and hybrid cars in America is too important for us to stand by and do nothing.  We’ve got to take control of our energy future, and we can’t let that energy industry take root in some other country because they were allowed to break the rules.  So our administration will bring this case against China today, and we will keep working every single day to give American workers and American businesses a fair shot in the global economy.