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International Trade Law

University of Puget Sound

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Un-Obtainium: The Quest For Rare Earth Elements, Brahm Heyman Jul 2012

Un-Obtainium: The Quest For Rare Earth Elements, Brahm Heyman

International Political Economy Theses

The 17 "rare earth elements" are essential for the development of new technologies. Over the last several decades, China has established a virtual monopoly on the rare earth industry, producing over 97% of the world's current demand. This was achieved by effectively undercutting other producers who stopped competing in this market. In 2010, in an effort to bolster its domestic market, China decided to reduce the amount of rare earth elements that it would export. This situation can be used to consider China's relations with the rest of the world from two perspectives. (1) The realist perspective views ...