The trade-security nexus and U.S. policy making in critical minerals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The United States increasingly relies on import to meet its demand for critical minerals. Using the case of rare earth elements (REEs), this paper analyzes the conditions and the strategies for the U.S. government to address import dependence. The paper finds that market factors, including the lack of comparable and sufficient substitutes and recycling, the high ratio of import relative to consumption, the high concentration of import supply by country, and regulations from the major supplier country, were insufficient to prompt intervention. Significant policy action only occurs when changing circumstances turn import dependence into perceived national security threats to the United States and its allies. The paper then examines U.S. domestic policy to mitigate import dependence during the Obama administration. It finds strong support for scientific research and development and for international collaboration with ally countries in the downstream, but limited support for upstream applied research and resource diplomacy, and limited engagement with the domestic and international private sector. The paper further analyzes policy trends under the current Trump administration and provides recommendations for future U.S. policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-249
Number of pages12
JournalResources Policy
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Critical minerals
  • Import dependence
  • Minerals policy
  • Rare earth elements
  • Trade-security nexus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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