Eurasia Center Brief Analysis EC/2022/11. – Are rare earths the new oil?

Abstract

Rare earth metals are the essential, irreplaceable materials powering most modern technology. Since 1985, China has systematically gained near complete control over the global supply chain. With the development of China’s economy over the decades, its leaders have sought to transform the country into a key player in strategically important industries. To this end, Beijing has established China as the dominant global supplier of rare earths, which are indispensable for the manufacture of smartphones, electric vehicles, military weapon systems, and countless other advanced technologies. However, the United States and the West an increasing security risk in China holding 90% of the world market share. This analysis focuses on the economy of rare earths, China’s success, and examines whether there may be a shift away from China’s dominant position in the near future.

Keywords: rare earth metals, China, supply chain, United States

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