top of page
  • Staff

China Imposes New Export Restrictions on Key Tech Metals, Intensifying Trade Friction with the U.S.

The Chinese government revealed new restrictions on the export of two rare metals crucial for manufacturing semiconductors and electric vehicles on Monday.

Starting from August 1, the country's Ministry of Commerce declared that exports of germanium and gallium would only be permitted if the necessary licenses are obtained from the ministry. It justified this decision as crucial to "safeguard national security and interests."

Although the ministry did not provide explicit reasons for this move, a China Daily editorial, which is state-owned, criticized the Netherlands for its semiconductor components export controls after the announcement.

The same editorial pointed out that the world's largest germanium mines are located in the U.S., which rarely exploits them. It added that germanium is also produced by Russia, Belgium, and Canada, while gallium is also sourced from Russia, Ukraine, Japan, and South Korea.

China outstrips all other nations in the total production of both these metals. It annually generates approximately 650,000 kilograms of gallium, which is roughly 94 percent of global production. The country has amplified its production significantly since 2019, when the usage of similar metals was restricted due to environmental concerns.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. currently does not have any domestic gallium sources. Furthermore, as of 2021, China was the largest germanium producer, generating about 95 metric tons.

The new export restrictions form part of the ongoing economic friction between China and the U.S. Despite President Biden's commitment to accelerate the transition to renewable energy in the U.S., the country lacks domestic sources for many necessary minerals. Notably, in May, Beijing prohibited the use of products from American chip manufacturer Micron Technology in key infrastructure projects, citing cybersecurity concerns.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is scheduled to embark on her inaugural visit to China as secretary this week, with a mission to ease the economic and trade disputes between the two countries.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page