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Laws 2015, 4(3), 617-637;

Access to Minerals: WTO Export Restrictions and Climate Change Considerations

Strathclyde Law School, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XQ, UK
Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0083, South Africa
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sonia E. Rolland
Received: 16 June 2015 / Revised: 26 August 2015 / Accepted: 27 August 2015 / Published: 22 September 2015
Full-Text   |   PDF [223 KB, uploaded 22 September 2015]


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; WTO; renewables; minerals; exports; rare earth elements; China climate change; WTO; renewables; minerals; exports; rare earth elements; China
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Switzer, S.; Gerber, L.; Sindico, F. Access to Minerals: WTO Export Restrictions and Climate Change Considerations. Laws 2015, 4, 617-637.

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