The United States will not be able to stop depending on China in its supply chain for critical minerals necessary to produce everything from electric vehicles to solar panels, despite Washington’s attempts to diversify its sources, a White House official acknowledged today.
“This is not about China. We are perfectly happy to work with them and at the moment we buy many of the minerals from Chinese companies. We will seek to diversify,” José Fernández, Undersecretary of Economic Growth and Environment, told the media in New York.
For Fernández, China’s role in mineral processing means that it will continue to be a key partner of the United States, being an essential component to produce electric car batteries.
Precisely, Joe Biden’s administration seeks to promote the transition towards this type of automobile.
China’s importance lies not only in minerals but also in other technologies such as hydrogen electrolyzers: equipment that allows hydrogen and oxygen to be separated on an industrial scale with the use of electricity generated from renewable sources, instead of using processes based in methane.
By the end of this year, China will control half of the installed capacity of electrolyzers that produce hydrogen, the International Energy Agency (IEA) highlighted in a report.
“The world needs them involved because climate change is behind this and we will not be able to solve the climate crisis without their participation,” he said in statements broadcast by the Bloomberg news agency.
Fernández leads an initiative promoted by the State Department called “Mineral Security Alliance”, which seeks to promote external investment and the transfer of knowledge in the mining sectors of developing countries that seek to enter the international chain as lithium suppliers. , magnesium and cobalt, among other minerals.
“China is the second largest economy in the world, and one of the United States’ largest trading partners. “We are going to continue working with them, defending our interests, protecting our companies and criticizing them when we believe it is necessary,” she added.
In a sign of detente, the United States and China formalized the establishment of two working groups that will meet regularly to discuss economic and financial issues, as well as discuss topics such as debt restructuring in developing countries.
In recent weeks, several senior US officials, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, visited China to stabilize ties after an escalation of tension over security and trade issues.
This is the first initiative that will allow regular economic dialogue between the powers since former US President Donald Trump eliminated such instances in 2018.
“These groups will serve as important forums to communicate America’s interests and concerns, promote healthy economic competition between both countries, and advance cooperation on global challenges,” Yellen highlighted.
On China’s side, meanwhile, the objective of discussing controversies such as the sanctions established by the United States on Chinese firms and products in recent years.
While the United States tries to resolve its differences with China, recently trade tensions have increased between Europe and the Asian country, which, paradoxically, enjoyed a better relationship.
Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice president at the European Commission (EC), stated at a conference in Shanghai that the European Union (EU) has a “very unbalanced” trade relationship with China.
The EU seeks to “reduce risks” and reduce its dependence on China, while maintaining access to its market, Dombrovskis said.
The EC recently announced an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese electric cars, because it considers that the large amount of state subsidies they receive implies a case of unfair competition by being sold cheaply in Europe and “distorting” the local market.
“It is an act of protectionism that will seriously distort the global automotive industry chain,” denounced the Chinese Ministry of Commerce before the announcement.