China to raise duties on some rare earth exports

December 15, 2010

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BEIJING—China plans to raise duties on some rare earth exports starting next year in a move to limit shipments overseas of the exotic metals used in high-tech manufacturing, state media said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Finance issued a statement saying some rare earth products will have export duties increased beginning Jan. 1, the official China Daily reported.

The ministry did not specify which rare earths would be affected or how much the tax would be.

Rare earths are a group of 17 minerals used in the manufacturing of high-tech products such as flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, electric car batteries, and wind turbines.

China produces 97 percent of the global supply of rare earths.

Also Wednesday, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman promised China would "act responsibly" in international cooperation on rare earth exploration and ensuring that basic demands for the minerals are met.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted spokesman Yao Jian saying the ministry was working with government departments to determine export quotas of rare earths for 2011.

China has cut rare earth exploration, production and exports as part of government efforts to promote sustainable development and protect the environment, Yao said.

Earlier this year, Japan accused China of blocking rare earth shipments following a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

Shaken by the threat of disruptions in supplies of rare earths, Japan has considered becoming a recycling center for the metals and is establishing partnerships with other Asian nations including Vietnam and Mongolia to develop new mines.