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EU ‘concerned’ about China’s curbs on rare metals – AFR

The European Commission said Tuesday it was “concerned” about China’s decision to impose export controls on two rare metals vital for making semiconductors amid an escalating tech battle between Washington and Beijing.

China’s trade ministry on Monday said exports of gallium and germanium would need a licence from August 1 in the name of “security and national interests”.

But a European Commission spokeswoman, Sonya Gospodinova, said the EU executive believed the new restrictions “are unrelated to the need to protect the global peace and also stability”.

“We call on China to take an approach whereby export restrictions and controls are based on clear security considerations in line with the WTO (World Trade Organization) rules,” she said.

China produces 80 percent of the world’s supplies of gallium and germanium, according to a 2020 European Commission report.

The EU imports from China 27 percent of its gallium needs and 17 percent of its germanium used, the same report said.

Gallium is used in integrated circuits, LEDs and solar panels, while germanium is found in optical fibres and infrared camera lenses, 

Beijing’s restrictions come as international tensions rise over the production of semiconductors and a tech rivalry between China and the United States.

The EU, while not adopting Washington’s harder stance, is seeking to cut its dependence on critical materials from China.

“The commission is currently working on a detailed analysis of the announced measures and their potential impact on the global supply chains and also on the European industry,” Gospodinova said.

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