October 28, 2010

Gillibrand Urges President Obama To Press China On Rare Earth Minerals At Upcoming G-20 Summit

Reports Show China Produces Over 95 Percent of World’s Rare Earth Metals, But Restricts Export Shipments

Washington, DC – With reports showing China using its stronghold of rare earth elements (REEs) production to restrict export shipments, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today wrote to President Barack Obama, urging him to press China on this matter during the November G-20 summit in Seoul, Korea, to keep REE markets fair and open. China accounts for over 95 percent of the world’s production of REEs -- minerals used in a broad range of household consumer products, as well as high-tech, clean energy and defense industry products that are vital for America’s economic future and national security. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to raise the issue to Chinese leaders at a regional summit in Asia this week.  

Senator Gillibrand praised Secretary Clinton for her intention to raise the issue at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, but emphasized the need for President Obama to continue pushing China on fair, open REE markets at the next G-20 summit.

“It is critical to America’s national security interests, jobs in many of our existing and emerging industries, and our global climate change goals that fair, sustainable, and open access to REEs be ensured,” Senator Gillibrand wrote. “In Seoul, G-20 leaders can commit to enhanced cooperation on global production and supply measures, diversification of resources, adoption of best practices to promote recycling of REEs, and research and development of innovative industrial processes that are less damaging to the environment.”

Senator Gillibrand’s full letter to President Obama:

Dear Mr. President,

 

I am pleased to see that Secretary Clinton has announced that she will raise the issue of fair trade in rare earth elements (REEs) with the Chinese government during her participation at the ASEAN Summit.  While that is an important step toward addressing this vital issue, I am writing to request that you also raise this issue at the upcoming G-20 Leaders’ Meeting in Seoul, Korea. 

It is critical to America’s national security interests, jobs in many of our existing and emerging industries, and our global climate change goals that fair, sustainable, and open access to REEs be ensured.  As you know, actions by China have raised concerns around the world that trade in rare earths might be significantly curtailed.   

The G-20 meeting presents a timely opportunity for global leaders, who have already begun to address trade-surplus and trade-deficit issues in this venue, to tackle this latest and very significant risk to fair trade and economic growth.   In Seoul, G-20 leaders can commit to enhanced cooperation on global production and supply measures, diversification of resources, adoption of best practices to promote recycling of REEs, and research and development of innovative industrial processes that are less damaging to the environment.

By raising this issue at the G-20 meeting, you will engage global leaders in a multilateral effort that that would bring benefits to American economy and security.   I look forward to working with you on these issues.

Sincerely,

                                                                                               

Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senator

cc: The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton