China's Rare Earth Export Management System is in Line with WTO Principles
    2012-07-04 18:20:09      Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

The World Trade Organization is set to hold a special conference next week on China's tighter export policies on rare earth.

This comes after the United States, European Union and Japan complained to the WTO about the matter.

China has reiterated that such restrictions are aimed at controlling environmental problems caused by rare earth mining and sustainable development.

Ding Lulu has the story.


At least one expert says China's rare earth export management system is in line with WTO principles.

Han Xiaoping is the Chief Information Officer of, an internet portal for energy information.

"According to the principles of the WTO, a nation has the right to restrict the export of scarce resources when its reserves are diminishing or when the resource harms the environment. Rare earth is such kind of resource."

Rare earths are crucial for the defense, electronics and renewable-energy industries and used in a range of products such as mobile phones, computer disk drives and wind turbines.

According to the State Council's white paper on rare earth, China's rare earth reserves account for some 23 percent of the world's total, but the country supplies more than 90 percent of the rare earth products on the global market.

Han Xiaoping points out that the U.S., EU and Japan are simply pressing China to lower its prices for rare earth.

"China is very weak in environmental protection. It takes advantage of this to try to get rare earth at a low price. If China's rare earth costs as much as it does in the United States or other countries, that's when these countries will exploit their own resources."

Han says that China's restrictions will also press other countries to find new rare earth reserves, which is expected to help maintain the stability and diversity of the global rare earth market.

He says the fundamental solution to the rare earth problem is that other countries speed up their exploitation of rare earth.

"The point is why other countries do not exploit their rare earth resources, rather than how China can continue to supply the global market. China can uphold this principle even if the issue has to be settled by the WTO. If pushed further, we can make various domestic regulations to curb excessive mining of rare earth and the environmental pollution caused by rare earth mining."

Han says the dispute comes as a warning for China's rare earth industry. He is calling for the establishment of a high-tech rare earth industry chain to strengthen the exploitation and export management of the resource.

For CRI, this is Ding Lulu.


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