The U.S., European Union and Japan are taking a complaint to the World Trade Organization that China is restricting exports of rare earth metals, giving Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage in the production goods such as batteries for electric vehicles, flat-screen televisions, smart phones and solar panels.
President Obama said Tuesday such goods should be U.S.-made, but manufacturers had to have access to the materials mined in China. According to Reuters, China accounts for 97 percent of the world’s supply of 17 essential rare earth elements.
“If China would simply let the market work on its own, we’d have no objections,” Obama said. “But their policies currently are preventing that from happening, and they go against the very rules that China agreed to follow.”
Reuters said the decision to take its case to the WTO is part of the administration getting tough with China over trade rules, something that has been drawing fire from congressional Republicans.