Recently the Obama administration filed a trade complaint requesting China to loosen its restrictions on exports of rare-earth minerals.
The materials are used to the manufacture of a wide range of products including computers and missles and even car batteries and cell phones. President Obama announced that the United States has asked the World Trade Organization to facilitate formal consultations with China over its limits on rare-earth exports. China is prepared to vigorously defend its right to control the export of such materials.
“We would feel sorry for their decision to complain to the WTO. In the meantime, we are actively preparing to defend ourselves and will explain the case if they bring the complaint against us,” the minister said.
China’s policies limit the rest of the world’s access to rare earth from the country, suspending the issuance of new licenses for rare earth prospecting and mining, imposing production caps and export quotas, and announcing tougher environmental standards for rare earth production. If China doesn’t stop excessive mining, some rare earth metals would only last 20 years. The minister said that policy was drawn up out of concern for the environment and the sustainable use and development of resources.