Rare earths and a decade of failure to diversify

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Hello from Brussels. The bilateral EU-China summit early in the week we were sceptical about actually produced more optimistic noises than we might have imagined about the prospects for the bilateral investment treaty, but we’ve had our hopes raised and then cruelly dashed before, so let’s see. Meanwhile, trade commissioner-designate Valdis Dombrovskis has been seen in public talking about trade and proved himself immensely capable of sticking to his brief with fierce tenacity. To be fair, despite having already passed through two confirmation hearings, he has to appear in front of the European Parliament again in October to check he’s OK to do the trade job, and with MEPs in a feisty mood he’s wise to say nothing controversial before then.

In today’s main piece we start to look at exactly what a significant supply chain diversification and reshoring campaign would look like, concluding that in the case of rare earths there has not been enough incentive in the past to overcome the barriers, and it’s not clear there is now either. Tall Tales is on USTR Robert Lighthizer’s comments on the WTO case that the US just lost, in which he proves to be generally quite right but specifically massively wrong….

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