Access to minerals: WTO export restrictions and climate change considerations

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In the past few years, the Chinese government opted to restrict the export of selected minerals on environmental and health grounds, subsequently leading to an uproar in countries and regions that rely heavily on imports from China to develop their renewable industry sector. This paper places the focus on the law and policy of the Chinese export restrictions of critical minerals, and its implications for the global renewables energy industry. The paper critically assesses how such export restrictions have been dealt with under the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Drawing on this WTO jurisprudence, we posit that litigation on export restrictions of the kind imposed by China poses a threat to the legitimacy of the WTO. We therefore conclude by exploring whether there are any alternatives to litigation as a means to deal with countries choosing to impose mineral export restrictions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-637
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2015


  • climate change
  • WTO
  • renewables
  • minerals
  • exports
  • rare earth elements
  • China


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