The White House says China’s restrictions create an unfair advantage for Chinese producers, which could harm domestic industrial production of green technology and force some factories to move overseas. China mines 97 percent of the world’s supply of rare earths, which are not necessarily rare but costly to extract. Rare earths are 17 metals responsible for making technology smaller, more efficient and portable. They are also used in oil and gas drills.
The U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says China has unfairly restricted the export of rare earths, key ingredients for hybrid and electric car batteries, energy efficient light bulbs, as well wind turbine construction.