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Export quota system for rare earths abolished

Updated: 2015-01-06 07:24
By WANG ZHUOQION (China Daily)

China to further consolidate rare earth resources

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is expected to deliberate on plans by three Chinese rare earth companies to consolidate the rare earth industries this week, Shanghai Securities News website reported Oct 29, 2014.

The MIIT disclosed this information at a rare earth forum held in Xiamen city, East China's Fujian province on Oct 23, according to the report. If the plans are approved, the consolidation of the country's rare earth resources is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The three rare earth firms that proposed the plan are China Minmetals Corporation, Ganzhou Rare Earth Group Co Ltd and Rising Nonferrous Metals Co Ltd.

The detailed integration plans have not been published, but it is reported that Ganzhou Rare Earth Group intends to cooperate with Jinpanxi Rare Earth Group Co Ltd,a joint venture of six rare earth firms in Southwest China's Sichuan province.

Earlier this year, the government approved a plan to consolidate the Chinese rare earth industry into six groups; the plan was formulated by MIIT.

Besides the abovementioned companies, the other three groups involved in the consolidation are Aluminum Corporation of China, Xiamen Tungsten Co Ltd and Baotou Iron & Steel Group Co Ltd.

WTO finds against China in rare earth dispute

The World Trade Organization issued a panel report on March 26 saying China's export restrictions on rare earth elements as well as the minor metals of molybdenum and tungsten are incompatible with WTO rules.

The ruling marks a second successful challenge to China's use of export quotas and tariffs as an industrial policy tool. In 2011, the United States, the European Union and Mexico won a WTO case against China's use of export quotas on nine industrial raw materials, paving the road for the challenge against its rare earths policy.

China is by far the world's largest producer of the 17 metals known collectively as "rare earth", which are used to manufacture a range of crucial technologies including missile-defense systems and smartphones. China accounts for more than 90 percent of the world's rare earth production, while its reserve of the minerals is about 23 percent of the world's total.

On March 13, 2012, the US, the EU and Japan initiated a complaint to the WTO regarding China's export restrictions of the minerals. A panel was formally established on July 23, 2012, to look into the dispute after consultations failed to reach a resolution.

Yang Guohua, deputy director general of the Department of Treaty and Law at the Ministry of Commerce, said China is evaluating the panel report and has 60 days to decide whether to appeal to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body.

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