China de­fends ex­port con­trols on rare earth min­er­als

The Pak Banker - - I Nternational -

BEI­JING: China de­fended its ex­port con­trols on rare earth min­er­als on Thurs­day, say­ing that they were in line with World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion rules, af­ter a govern­ment move to slash ex­port quo­tas on rare earths sparked trade con­cerns.

China, which pro­duces about 97 per­cent of the global sup­ply of the met­als used in the pro­duc­tion of nu­mer­ous high-tech prod­ucts, cut its ex­port quota by 35 per­cent for the first half of 2011 com­pared with a year ear­lier, say­ing it wanted to con­serve re­serves.

For­eign Min­istry spokes- woman Jiang Yu re­it­er­ated at a reg­u­lar news brief­ing in Bei­jing that the quo­tas were nec­es­sary for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

"This ac­cords with rel­e­vant WTO rules," she said. "In the fu­ture, China will con­tinue to sup­ply rare earths to the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket and will take ef­fec­tive man­age­ment steps over their ex­port in ac­cor­dance with WTO rules."

The for­eign min­istry does not set China's pol­icy on rare earths.

China has re­fused U.S. re­quests to end ex­port re­straints on rare earths that have alarmed trade part­ners, and Washington could com­plain to the WTO, which judges in­ter­na­tional trade dis­putes, the U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice said last week. The rare earths is­sue adds to the grow­ing list of trade-re­lated dis­putes be­tween China and the United States, which has ac­cused China of poorly en­forc­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights and for its in­dige­nous in­no­va­tion poli­cies that dis­crim­i­nate against for­eign com­pa­nies.

Prices have surged for rare earth min­er­als since the au­thor­i­ties in Bei­jing slashed ex­ports by 40 per­cent this sum­mer.

Bei­jing said the curbs were aimed at en­sur­ing sup­plies for Chi­nese clean en­ergy com­pa­nies it is try­ing to pro­mote in­ter­na­tion­ally, but it has also said its dom­i­nance as a pro­ducer should give it more con­trol over global prices.

A Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokesman said the Euro­pean Union had noted the lat­est quota fig­ures and ex­pected China to re­spect re­cent as­sur­ances of a guar­an­tee of rare earth sup­plies to Europe.

Wind tur­bines and hy­brid cars are among the biggest users of rare earth min­er­als, a lit­tle-known class of 17 re­lated el­e­ments that an­a­lysts say are fac­ing a global sup­ply crunch as de­mand swells. The min­er­als also are used in some weapons sys­tems. U.S. mak­ers of high-tech prod­ucts such as Ap­ple Inc's iPads and var­i­ous Ja­panese com­pa­nies have been scram­bling t o se­cure re­li­able sup­plies of the min­er­als out­side of China as Bei­jing steadily re­duces ex­port al­lo­ca­tions. Bei­jing has long in­sisted that other coun­tries should share t he re­spon­si­bil­ity for de­vel­op­ing rare earths. -Reuters

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