It’s not all cheap toys and designer knockoffs. Rare earth minerals imported by the U.S. from China are integral to everything from oil refining, which needs lanthanum, to europium-hungry flat-screens. And it could be the next big trade war weapon. President Xi Jinping last week visited a factory in the middle of China’s rare-earth production region, sending a veiled threat to U.S. policymakers.
Can they be acquired elsewhere? China has produced nearly 90 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals since the 1990s, but its share has recently fallen to 71 percent following an uptick in American production.
OZY asks how much the trade war will cost consumers.