RAND Report – Critical Materials Present Danger to U.S. Manufacturing

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 15, 2013

Critical Materials – Present Danger to U.S. Manufacturing by Richard Silberglitt, James T. Bartis, Brian G. Chow, David L. An, Kyle Brady ["The research described in this report was prepared for the National Intelligence Council. The research was conducted within the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community."]

  • “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.”
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