U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today applauded U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk for taking action to address China's illegal restrictions on the export of rare earth minerals. Today, the Trade Representative announced he was filing a case with the World Trade Organization challenging China's anti-competitive practices. Senator Stabenow was among the first to urge the Administration to address this problem. These rare earth materials are important components in many U.S. made-products, including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy efficient lighting, and automobiles.
"I have been calling for strong action to address China's illegal actions and am glad that action is now being taken," said Sen. Stabenow. "Michigan's economic turnaround depends on innovative businesses being able to manufacture the products of the future. We cannot let China's unfair trade practices stop job growth."
China is currently hoarding rare earth elements critical to a wide range of industries - from hi-tech batteries for advanced technology vehicles, to smart phone batteries to important military technologies. China now controls production of more than 95% percent of the world's supply-and has increasingly been using export controls to reduce the amount available on the world market. This in turn has sent costs skyrocketing for businesses that manufacture products that require rare earth elements. China also has policies to prevent foreign companies from mining rare earth elements within its borders.
The European Union and Japan joined the United States in requesting World Trade Organization consultations regarding China's unfair export restraints on rare earths.
Senator Stabenow has also been leading the effort to help revive America's rare earth development. Her Battery Innovation Act includes a provision that would improve our nation's critical minerals supply chain.