WTO Calls China Out for Hoarding Rare-Earth Materials

By Aliza Kempner

In response to the United States’, Japan’s, and other countries’ complaints, the WTO acknowledged that China’s restricting sales of materials like lithium and tungsten have provided Chinese firms with a leg up in the competition for manufacturing lucrative products. Lawmakers and free-trade advocates in the United States have cautioned that China’s behavior has been threatening American businesses and national security by increasing the manufacturing costs of smartphones, solar panels, and batteries for hybrid and electric cars and blocking important materials for defense. 

However, the grass may not be greener, after all. Foreign Policy explores the implication of the WTO’s holding that countries can’t limit exports just to guarantee preferential access to raw materials for domestic industries, and how that decision may fuel the debate around the exportation of U.S. energy sources.