SAFE Hosts Critical Minerals Trade & Investment Roundtables with U.S. Government, Business Leaders

Chunks of copper ore mineral rocks in an iron barrel
  • SAFE held three private virtual conversations with government officials and critical minerals companies focused on Africa, the Americas, and the Indo-Pacific.
  • The discussions covered trade and critical minerals from all perspectives, including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, and Department of State.
  • This builds on SAFE’s A Global Race to the Top report and develops trade policy that strengthens the competitiveness of domestic industry.

December 26, 2023—Over the course of a week, SAFE’s Center for Critical Minerals Strategy held three important trade and investment roundtables, bringing together U.S. government officials and private sector actors to discuss how trade and other policy measures can be leveraged to create more diverse and sustainable supply chains.

Each roundtable focused on areas of significant importance—Africa, the Americas, and the Indo-Pacific—and addressed the unique dynamics, challenges, and opportunities for critical minerals supply chains in each region, with an eye to developing trade policies that can strengthen manufacturing in the United States, as well as in allied and like-minded countries.

“We see trade policy as not only as a way to create paths to high standard critical mineral projects from secure sources, but also to ensure the competitiveness of our domestic industry,” said Abigail Hunter, Director of SAFE’s Center for Critical Minerals Strategy.

“As next steps, we will continue to research trade and investment policy tools to address gaps in existing strategies with the goal to ensure the development of secure and responsible mineral supply chains,” she said.

These roundtables, which were attended by some of the major global critical minerals mining, refining, and processing companies as well as key U.S. Government agencies, put into action the recommendations for the Mineral Center’s inaugural paper, A Global Race to the Top: Using Transparency to Secure Critical Mineral Supply Chains, which has several vital trade recommendations aimed at increasing the competitiveness of U.S. domestic industry and building up capacity with U.S. partners, without compromising our standards.

With the transition to EVs, the automotive supply chain is shifting into one where critical minerals are the foundational building block, and where Beijing currently dominates the market. While nations all over the world have awakened to the importance of critical minerals and their associated supply chains, committing billions of dollars to support the building of new domestic capacities, governments continue to find it difficult to shield their burgeoning industries against Beijing’s market manipulation. The set of policies deployed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is designed to protect the market share of its industries.

Beijing takes advantage of the lack of transparency in supply chains to allow its industry leaders to operate with little regard for environment and labor conditions both domestically and abroad. Such practices have played a crucial role in reducing production costs as well as investment risk, providing Chinese companies with an advantage over their competitors by creating a race to the bottom that undermines all the benefits of the transition to a more electrified economy.

“We’re looking forward to hosting more conversations on trade in 2024,” said Hunter. “It’s essential that both industry leaders and government officials are at the table as we develop more policy recommendations that are aimed at strengthening and diversifying our supply chains.”