China plans to slash its exports of rare earth minerals used worldwide in high-tech products and clean energy, a decision that could cause strain with the United States.
The Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that it will scale back the export quotas 11 percent in the first half of 2011.
China churns out 97 percent of the global supply of rare earth elements, which are essential components of high-technology products like cell phones, computer drives, and hybrid cars, AP reports.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office voiced concern over the move.
“We are very concerned about China’s export restraints on rare earth materials. We have raised our concerns with China and we are continuing to work closely on the issue with stakeholders,” a USTR spokeswoman said, according to Reuters.
The announcement comes amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China. China lowered its export quota by 40 percent in 2010 and last week shot down U.S. requests to end the restraints. The USTR says the United States may bring the dispute before the World Trade Organization, Reuters reports.
China is allocating 14,446 tons of rare earths among 31 companies.