Securing Access to Critical Raw Materials: What Role for the WTO in Tackling Export Restrictions? Four Proposals for a Transatlantic Agenda

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Series Details Transatlantic Academy Paper Series
Publication Date December 2011
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Export restrictions (foremost tariffs and quotas) on critical raw materials are on the rise. Both United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and his European colleague, EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, therefore welcomed the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel’s finding on 'China — Measures Related to the Exportation of Various Raw Materials' earlier in 2011. But how well was the WTO really equipped to discipline the use of export barriers to trade — in particular in the light of an increasing number of such measures? And what options did the United States and the European Union have to address limitations in WTO rules?

After a short introduction of U.S. and EU critical material strategies and the role of trade policy instruments therein, this paper will give a brief overview of WTO rules on export restrictions and their limitations before turning to the dispute over Chinese export restrictions on certain raw materials. The last section will outline a four-track approach for the transatlantic partners to address the aforementioned challenges.

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