The Trump administration backed off including widely used rare earth metals on its list of tariff goods released Monday after including the rare earth metals on a provisional list in July.
China is known for dominating the rare earth metal market. It provided 80 percent of the global rare earth metal supply in 2017, according to Bloomberg. The U.S. got 78 percent of its rare earth metal imports from China from 2013 to 2016, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Rare earth metals are often used in items from electronic devices to jet engines. They include elements like yttrium and cerium, forms of which were included in the July provisional list but not its finalized version that includes $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
Had the Trump administration kept rare earth metals on the tariff list, it would have pushed the U.S. to source rare earth metals from countries other than China or even from within its own borders. Pushing mining rare earth metals on U.S. soil would have lined up with a list of 35 critical minerals that the U.S. Department of the Interior released in May to underscore U.S. dependence on foreign imports for the materials.
The Trump administration wants the U.S. to produce more of those materials at home.
“Most” of the rare earth metals on the July provisional list were also on the May critical minerals list, reported Reuters.
Other countries with sizeable rare earth metal deposits include Brazil, South Africa, Australia and Russia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The U.S. also has rare earth metal deposits. (RELATED: U.S. Tariffs Leave China Little Options That Aren’t ‘Playing Into Trump’s Hands’)
China came under fire from the World Trade Organization in 2014 for keeping its rare earth metal exports low to raise prices, a move that the U.S. and other nations protested.
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