U.S. Pressures China To Ease Mineral Restrictions

The Obama administration is taking China to the World Trade Organization Tuesday. The move is aimed at pressuring China to ease restrictions on rare earth minerals. The minerals are critical to high-tech production of electronic products and military technology — from iPads to smart bombs.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with trade moves against China.

The United States, the European Union and Japan, today, all brought a case against China before the World Trade Organization. They moved together - the first time they have ever jointly brought a case this way. The move is aimed at pressuring China to ease restrictions on what are called rare earth minerals. It's also an effort by the Obama administration, in an election year, to take a tougher posture on trade with China. Here's the president, speaking this morning, at the White House.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The key is to make sure that the playing field is level. And frankly, sometimes it's not.

INSKEEP: The minerals in question here are critical to high tech production of electronic products like iPads and military technology. China controls 95 percent of the world's stores, but has placed tight restrictions exports in recent years.

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