With China tightening control over the export of rare earth mineral used in mobile phones, hybrid cars and missile guidance systems, Japan on Friday inked a trade pact to import over 4,000 tonnes of the rare earths from India - second largest producer in the world.
The pact, along with an agreement for social security, was signed between the two countries despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh putting off his Tokyo trip.
The agreement on the trade of rare earth minerals has come at a time when the world’s largest producer China -- which has 95 per cent of world output -- has restricted the export of the rare earth minerals by levying taxes and fixing
quotas. Announcing the signing of the agreement on Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs said: “The conclusion and signing of these agreements will further enhance and strengthen the India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership.”
The MoU was signed between the Department of Atomic Energy and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan on Cooperation. The export of the rare earth minerals is expected to start by next year.
As Sino-Japanese relations are undergoing strain over the islands in the East China Sea, Japan is looking for diversification of the suppliers of the rare earth minerals. India has huge reserves of the minerals in Odisha. India remains a distant second to China in terms of rare earths mining.
As per the US Geological urvey in 2010, China produced 1.3 lakh tonnes while India’s output was 2,700 tonnes. India is in talks with Japan to invest in the Odisha plant but there has been no consensus so far.