The U.S. Defense Department has submitted a report to Congress on rare earth minerals as it looks to reduce American reliance on China, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, amid mounting concern in Washington about Beijing’s role as a supplier.
Although the Pentagon did not provide details of the report, it said it was tied to a federal program designed to bolster domestic production capabilities by offering “tailored” economic incentives.
Chinese media have speculated recently that Beijing could choose to use its dominant position as a supplier of rare earths as leverage in the current U.S.-China trade dispute.
China accounted for 80% of America’s rare earth imports between 2014 and 2017.
“The department continues to work closely with the president, Congress and the industrial base to mitigate U.S. reliance on China for rare earth minerals,” Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a spokesman, told Reuters.
“The department recently submitted a Defense Production Act III rare earth mineral report to Congress, demonstrating the department’s continued focus on reducing reliance on China,” Andrews said.
The DPA Title III program was designed “to create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore domestic industrial base capabilities,” according to a defense department website.
The website noted that the program gives the U.S. president “broad authority to ensure the timely availability of essential domestic industrial resources to support national defense and homeland security requirements through the use of highly tailored economic incentives.” (https://www.businessdefense.gov/DPA-Title-III/Overview/)
It was unclear if the Pentagon offered any new suggestions for economic incentives as part of the report to Congress.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sonya Hepinstall)
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