U.S. to file trade case against China over rare earths
March 13th, 2012
11:47 AM ET

U.S. to file trade case against China over rare earths

Washington (CNN) - The United States plans to announce Tuesday that it is filing a trade case over China's export restrictions on minerals that are crucial for the production of many high tech devices, a senior Obama administration official said.

The European Union and Japan will join the United States in the case, which aims to pressure China to lift export limits on certain minerals known as rare earths, the official said Monday.

China produces about 95% of all rare earths, which are used to make products like flat-screen televisions, smart phones and hybrid cars.

The United States will ask the World Trade Organization, the organization tasked with monitoring trade between nations, to serve as a facilitator in talks with China, according to the U.S. official.

The United States accuses China of hoarding the valuable minerals for its own use. But China disputes that, saying the restrictions are motivated by environmental concerns.

China will have 10 days to respond to the case and must hold talks with the other parties within two months.

Concern in the United States over the supply of rare earths resulted in a hearing on the matter in September by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

Of particular concern was how vital the minerals are for top-of-the-line weapons, including missile guidance systems, drones and the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Rare earths - including cerium, neodymium and dysprosium - also can be found in wind turbines, energy-efficient light bulbs and night vision goggles.

American companies are trying to answer the demand. Molycorp Inc, one of the few producers of rare earth minerals outside China, has urged Congress to do more to confront the problem and encourage research and development. Molycorp has mines in California and Colorado.

In 2010, China temporarily halted shipments of rare earths to Japan, prompting a sharp spike in prices of the minerals.

CNN's Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

Topics: China • The News • Trade

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. jerry

    oh right obama...Russia and China both know your a punk and a fool. Now you think you can sue them...funny!

    March 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • asda

      Get your story straight...,.they also think he is a nutjob

      March 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Name*Liz Carter

      What?? A punk and a fool?!? That's just what you WANT to think...jerk! As a matter of fact, that's what you and the rest of your ilk wish so much that he was...maybe you all could have puppetized him to do YOUR bidding! But you can't, because he isn't! You've groomed many others to be puppets, but you can't get Obama! Btw, a man's greatest enemies are those within his own household...Russia, China the whole world knows who Barack Obama is!! They know what you clowns are doing to bring him down too!! They know that Obama is a great orator, a great negotiator, a great compromiser, a great strategist, a learned statesman, a savvy diplomat, an analyzer, a disciplined, courteous, calm, polite, officer and a gentleman! Hey!! Last but not least, they know he's ONE of this nations greatest Presidents!! Just from reading your audacious, stupid posts, the punk and fool thing sounds more like you! LOL!! Funny!

      March 14, 2012 at 12:06 am |
      • Andres

        to carter: Thank you for your reply. I agree one hundred percent with everything you said. It's just a shame that there are so many empty heads within our own nation that can't not see who Obama really is, a great leader indeed. I can't believe how they wish to replace him by one of the 4 current dummies running for the GOP

        March 14, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  2. Joseph C. Carbone III

    A late trade complaint against China is seen as a reelection strategy put on the sidelines while Americans greatly suffered for three more years; this is unacceptable of Pres. Obama.

    Incredibly Outrageous: This was needed more than three years ago, and anyone with sense knew of the need before and after Pres. Obama's campaign of change.

    Sincerely, Joseph C. Carbone III; 13 March 2012

    ★"˜¨¯¯¨˜"ª¤(¯`*•.¸(¯`*•.. The Hon. Dr. Ron Paul for 2012 ..•*´¯)¸.•*´¯)¤ª"˜¨¯¯¨˜"★

    March 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  3. Frank La

    Its argument has become a " sensitive affair " . Does China violate the rule of game in which China had signed to joint The W.T.O since 2001. My questions are : Economic benefit or Political power that they want show up .

    March 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  4. LRock

    lol......How can you force a nation to export its own natural resources to meet your own demand? Why don't US do that to the Arabs who held the world ransom over crude oil?

    March 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Steveo

      Excellent point! We could do the same. We could stop placing our gas and oil on the world market and use it at home. Somehow I don't see that happening! We are touting how gas and oil production are up but it is all on the world market! I also think China is acting in this manner to raise the prices.

      March 14, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  5. Sponge-Bob

    Slap some tariffs on China in other areas and they'll be more responsive in rare earths.

    March 14, 2012 at 5:22 am |
  6. PoloBaby

    With all this going on I want to understand the effects of mining minerals impacted our society? The thing is that all along we have no power over this so its kind of hard.

    March 14, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Kiran

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      May 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm |