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China's Rare Earths Export Quotas: Out of the China-Raw Materials Gate, But Past the WTO's Finish Line?


  • Han-Wei Liu
  • John Maughan


Several recent studies have discussed the ramifications of the China -- Raw Materials case for China's rare earths. However, none of these studies has conducted a thorough investigation of China's current export quota regime for rare earths or how it might stand up under WTO rules, assuming that it would be treated the same. This article makes no such assumption, investigating China's export quota regime for rare earths as it stands in early June 2012. The regime is somewhat improved over that applied during the Raw Materials case and could allow a more favourable WTO ruling. However, if General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) disciplines are interpreted narrowly, as in China -- Raw Materials, this article finds that the current regime still falls short of certain GATT exceptions. This article informs future analyses of China's export quota regime for rare earths. Beyond the case of China, it also invites discussion on the appropriate amount of 'policy space' WTO Members should enjoy for imposing export quotas under the relevant GATT disciplines for resource conservation and environmental protection. The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Han-Wei Liu & John Maughan, 2012. "China's Rare Earths Export Quotas: Out of the China-Raw Materials Gate, But Past the WTO's Finish Line?," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(4), pages 971-1005, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jieclw:v:15:y:2012:i:4:p:971-1005

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    Cited by:

    1. Charlier, Christophe & Guillou, Sarah, 2014. "Distortion effects of export quota policy: an analysis of the China-Raw Materials dispute," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 320-338.
    2. Pothen, Frank & Fink, Kilian, 2015. "A political economy of China's export restrictions on rare earth elements," ZEW Discussion Papers 15-025, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Pothen, Frank, 2014. "Dynamic market power in an exhaustible resource industry: The case of rare earth elements," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-005, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

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