A dispute over rare metals which has been building for years has come to a head: China has been challenged for restricting its exports. It provides 97 percent of the global output. The US, EU and Japan have fired off a formal complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The objection includes lower prices for Chinese manufacturers. Foreigners pay up to twice as much, yet cannot shop elsewhere. As in Brussels and Tokyo, the White House said Beijing must play fair.
President Obama said: “American manufacturers need to have access to rare earth material which China supplies. Now, if China would simply let the market work on its own, we’d have no objection. But their policies currently are preventing that from happening, and they go against the very rules that China agreed to follow.”
The rare earths case is the first to be jointly filed by the European Union, the United States and Japan. Rare earths are crucial for the defence, electronics and renewable-energy industries.
Beijing set an export quota of 30,258 tonnes in 2011, but it shipped only 16,861 tonnes last year, official data shows. Export prices over the past two years have quadrupled, encouraging buyers to shift operations to China
Beijing said the complaint was unfair and that it would defend itself in the WTO, citing environmental and supply control problems.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “Exploiting rare earths effects the environment. China is implementing some management policies governing the environment and resources, working on sustainable development. We believe these policies are in line with WTO rules.”
Refining rare earths requires large amounts of acid. It also produces low-level radioactive waste. Extracting the stuff is harmful for the land, for water supplies and for people.
Rare earth metals are generally dispersed. China has them in concentrated and economically exploitable forms, therefore enjoying a monopoly position. The metals go into hi-tech magnets, lasers, batteries, phones, x-ray machines, lamp bulbs and munitions.
Other countries closed their own refineries over concern for pollution, as well as rare earths mines when China undercut world prices in the 1990s, partly thanks to cheap labour and looser standards.
Copyright © 2014 euronewsMore about:
- 1Irony as organised crime prosecutor arrested for corruption in Romania
- 2Russia’s behaviour in Ukraine a ‘flagrant violation’, says Biden
- 3Spain: Singer Isabel Pantoja jailed for two years
- 4Turkey promises support for Kurdish Peshmurga in anti-ISIL front
- 5Moscow: Luxury car collection destroyed in suspected arson attack
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2Sweden becomes first EU country to recognise the Palestinian State | euronews, world news
- 3Italy swamped by flash floods | euronews, world news
- 4Back to School for Romania’s new First Lady | euronews, world news
- 5What will you ask US Senator John McCain? | euronews, world news
- 6Turkish president Erdogan unveils his new palace of a thousand rooms | euronews, world news
- 7India PM Modi appoints Yoga minister | euronews, world news
- 8Vladimir Putin most powerful man in the world – Forbes | euronews, world news
- 9[Live] Rosetta’s Philae lands on comet 67P and enters the history books | euronews, world news
- 10European e-revolution people rise up | euronews, world news
- 11International tv news | euronews: European and International tv news bulletin
- 12Where is the best place in Europe for women? | euronews, world news
- 13Putin plans to leave G20 talks early amid Ukraine pressure | euronews, world news
- 14Transcript of hanged Iranian woman’s final message released | euronews, world news
- 15Nadia Comaneci: gymnast of perfection and defector | euronews, the global conversation
- 16US says ISIL makes $1 million-a-day selling oil – even to enemies | euronews, world news
- 17Edgars Rinkevics: “I am gay. Good luck all of you.” | euronews, world news
- 18Philippe Starck: ‘Words like longevity and legacy have become almost avant-garde’ | euronews, the global conversation
- 19Revealed: Europe’s capital cities where it’s hardest to be a foreigner | euronews, world news
- 20Syria: Islamic extremists pledge to press ahead with battle for Kobani | euronews, world news
Wires > News
- 11:03 CET U.S. says welcomes oil deal between Iraqi Kurdistan and Baghdad
- 10:30 CET Portuguese police arrest ex-PM Socrates in corruption investigation
- 09:59 CET Bahrain holds elections as Shi’ite opposition boycotts vote
- 06:48 CET Obama signs order expanding U.S. Afghanistan role – New York Times
- 03:22 CET Biden voices support for Ukraine, denounces Russia’s Putin
- 00:27 CET Cuban migrants head off from Caymans, bound for Honduras
- 00:22 CET Lawyer for bin Laden son-in-law gets 1-1/2 years prison in tax case
- 00:18 CET U.N. calls for credible Myanmar election, minority protection