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Germany urges China to change rare metals policy

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Germany urges China to change rare metals policy
Photo: DPA
16:43 CET+01:00
Germany on Friday urged a visiting senior Chinese official to review Beijing's restrictions on exporting so-called "rare earths" critical to manufacturing hi-tech goods.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday met Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle who asked that China "review once again restrictions that it has imposed or plans to impose" on the exportation of the critical minerals, Brüderle's spokesman said.

China announced last month announced a 35 percent cut in rare earth exports for the first half of 2011, drawing complaints from Japan and the United States. It has also hiked export taxes.

On Friday, the China Daily reported that the Ministry of Environmental Protection has approved tougher environmental standards for miners of rare earths, which could further drive up prices.

In recent years, Beijing has radically cut back rare earth metals exports resulting in rocketing prices for elements critical to manufacturing everything from iPods to low-emission cars, wind turbines and missiles.

China controls up to 97 percent of global rare earths production, according to Commerzbank, although this is mostly a result of low Chinese wages and lax environmental controls having made it unprofitable to mine the elements in other countries.

Brüderle issued a statement following the meeting with Li calling for "open, equitable and reliable access to Chinese raw materials."

Li was due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday when he was expected to sign a number of commercial agreements.

AFP/mry

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