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Brazilian Journal of Political Economy

Print version ISSN 0101-3157On-line version ISSN 1809-4538


MEDEIROS, CARLOS AGUIAR DE  and  TREBAT, NICHOLAS M.. Transforming natural resources into industrial advantage: the case of China’s rare earths industry. Brazil. J. Polit. Econ. [online]. 2017, vol.37, n.3, pp.504-526. ISSN 0101-3157.

This paper analyzes the development of China’s rare earths industry, emphasizing the role of state technological initiatives in the country’s transition from rare earth exporter to large industrial consumer of these raw materials. Like other industrial powers before it, China takes advantage of low-cost domestic supplies of strategic raw materials to promote higher value-added manufacturing. We argue that, in the case of rare earths, this strategy has been largely successful, disrupting a classic international division of labor that existed prior to 2000, in which China exported most of its rare earth output to wealthy countries, and transforming Chinese firms into exporters of more sophisticated downstream products.

Keywords : rare earths; industrial policy; technical advance; green technologies.

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