Critical Minerals: G7 Want to Strengthen Supply Chains

by | 22. May 2023 - 11:55 | Politics

G7 countries emphasize the growing importance of raw materials for the energy transition and seek to reduce economic dependence on China.

Last weekend, the G7 heads of state and government met in Hiroshima, Japan. In addition to the war in Ukraine and calling for stronger climate protection measures worldwide, critical minerals and their role in the global energy transition were also on the agenda.

The joint statement (PDF) affirms the growing importance of these raw materials. The declaration emphasizes the need to build resilient, robust, responsible, and transparent supply chains for critical minerals. To do so, the statement said, supply chain diversification, recycling, and local sourcing should be encouraged. “Market-distorting practices and monopolistic policies on critical minerals,” on the other hand, would be rejected.

Even if the People’s Republic is not explicitly mentioned, such passages are mainly aimed at China, the world’s largest producer of important raw materials such as rare earths. Accordingly, the G7 countries also adopted a joint declaration on economic security (PDF) for the first time at their meeting, with the aim of reducing economic dependencies. It addresses the problem of unwanted technology transfer, for example, and calls for stricter scrutiny of foreign investments in the future. At the same time, the summit’s concluding declaration emphasizes that it does not want to harm China or slow down its economic progress and emphasized the importance of cooperation on global challenges.

In this area of tension, the quite different positions of the G7 countries come to light. While German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, for example, repeatedly spoke out in favor of derisking rather than decoupling in view of Germany’s strong economic ties with China, the United States and host Japan in particular had advocated a more resolute approach toward Beijing in the run-up to the summit.

The Chinese leadership voiced sharp criticism, accusing the G7 of defamation and interference in internal affairs, among other things. Shortly after the publication of the G7 final declaration, China also issued a partial sales ban against the U.S. memory chip manufacturer Micron, as reported by the news agency Reuters, among others, citing security risks as the reason. Experts see this step as a countermeasure to the US export restrictions on chip technology already issued last year.

Photo: iStock/jamesjuntree

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