Wednesday, February 13, 2013



IWS Documented News Service


Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau







[full-text, 72 pages]




[full-text, 10 pages]



The United States economy, and especially its manufacturing sector, is dependent on the supply of raw and semi-finished materials used to make products. While the United States has extensive mineral resources and is a leading global materials producer, a high percentage of many materials critical to U.S. manufacturing are imported, sometimes from a country that has the dominant share of a material's global production and export. This report specifically identifies 14 critical materials for which production is concentrated in countries with weak governance, as indicated by the World Governance Indicators published by the World Bank. China is the controlling producer of 11 of these critical raw materials, nine of which have been identified as having high economic importance and high supply risk. As its market share and domestic consumption of critical materials has grown, China has instituted production controls, export restrictions, mine closings, and company consolidations that have led to two-tier pricing, which creates pressure to move manufacturing to China and contributes to strong price increases for these materials on the world market. To mitigate the impact of these market distortions on the global manufacturing sector, this report suggests the need for actions that (1) increase resiliency to supply disruptions or market distortions and (2) provide early warning of developing problems concerning the concentration of production.


Key Findings

China Is the Controlling Producer of 11 Raw and Semi-Finished Materials Critical to U.S. Manufacturing


•China is responsible for at least 60 percent of global production of eight of the nine materials for which a single country has the highest share of global production.

•For some materials, China's share of global production is even higher, including 97 percent of rare earth elements, 90 percent of antimony, and 86 percent of magnesium and tungsten.


China's Export Restrictions Have Major Ramifications for Global Manufacturing Trends


•The two-tier pricing system resulting from China's export restrictions has hindered the international competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and provided motivation for moving U.S. manufacturing operations to China.

•China's export restrictions have contributed to large price increases for raw and semi-finished materials and, in some cases, volatility on the world market.


Actions Are Needed to Counter the Impact of Export Restrictions on Global Manufacturing


•Actions are needed to increase resiliency to supply disruptions or market distortions and to provide early warning of developing problems associated with the concentration of production.

•Actions to increase resiliency should be aimed at the diversification of production and processing, as well as the improved efficiency of the use and recovery of materials from waste and scrap.

•Actions to provide early warning could be based on the benchmarking of market activity with diversified commodity markets.



This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.


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