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China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths$
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Sophia Kalantzakos

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190670931

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190670931.001.0001

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How China Came to Dominate the Rare Earth Industry

How China Came to Dominate the Rare Earth Industry

(p.117) 4 How China Came to Dominate the Rare Earth Industry
China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths

Sophia Kalantzakos

Oxford University Press

Once a leader in the production and trading of rare earths, the United States relinquished the reins to China in the 1990s. The People’s Republic of China declared rare earths “protected and strategic materials” and proceeded to control production and processing, introduced export quotas, and sought to dominate the supply chain for crucial applications. It also made investments in mines worldwide. The 2010 crisis caused a parabolic rise in prices, leading the United States, the European Union, and Japan to file a complaint against China at the World Trade Organization, in 2012, and to launch trilateral cooperation workshops, starting in 2011, to promote recycling, substitution, and innovation. China lost its WTO appeal and removed the export quotas in May 2015. The market corrected itself, and it may seem today that China lost an initial battle; but closer examination indicates that it may not have lost the war.

Keywords:   rare earths, WTO, quotas, trilateral workshops, magnets, recycling, substitution, innovation, mines

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