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China removes tariffs on rare earth exports

China will remove export tariffs in rare metals, according to a Ministry of Finance statement quoted by Reuters.28 Apr 2015

Tariffs to be removed include those related to shipments of tungsten, molybdenum, ferroalloys, indium and aluminium rods and bars, according to the Reuters report.

Rare earths are a set of 17 metal elements which have magnetic and optical properties. They are essential for the manufacture of a range of high tech products including mobile phones, wind power turbines, disk drives and defence technology.

In 2014, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled that export restrictions by China violated its WTO obligations.

At the time, a Chinese official warned that the country may impose new taxes on producers, if forced to drop the export tariffs. 

Export tariffs are also cancelled for non-alloyed and alloyed aluminium rods. While the statement said China will exempt a type of refined aluminium alloy from taxes from May, it did not say anything about primary aluminium that currently carries a 15% export tax, Reuters said.

The move could boost stalled demand, Amanda Lacaze, chief executive of Australian mining company Lynas Corp told Bloomberg.

"In the short term, a lot of what has been damping demand will be released," Lacaze said. "Some customers have been living off inventories and they’ll come back and start placing orders."