Chart of the week: China’s trade war trump card

China is by far the dominant supplier of rare earth metals - a group of 17 elements used in applications ranging from military and industrial lasers to energy-saving light fittings – accounting for 71% of the entire global supply.

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Rare earth metals are not as scarce as the name might suggest. However, China is by far the dominant supplier to the US, accounting for about 80% of American imports (and 71% of the entire global supply of mined rare earth minerals). The metals a group of 17 elements such as neodymium and yttrium are used in applications ranging from military and industrial lasers to energy-saving light fittings.

Speculation that China might restrict access to rare earths as a negotiating tool in its trade war with the US increased last week after President Xi Jinping visited a rare-earth facility in Jiangxi. As a result, the share prices of many rare-earth producers (including China Rare Earth Holdings, featured here) have enjoyed a spike higher.

Viewpoint

Jim Armitage, Evening Standard

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