China’s supply of rare earth magnets to the US bounced in July from the earlier month, customs data confirmed on Sunday, as concerns remain that Beijing may restrict the supply of rare earth products in the Sino-U.S. trade conflict.
Shipments to the US totaled 447 tonnes in July, according to records from the General Administration of Customs, the highest month-to-month total in customs database information going back to January 2017.
The volume was up 8% from June when deliveries had fallen from May’s high of 431 tonnes and up around 26% year-on-year.
China is the world’s ruling producer and supplier of rare earth magnets, which are broadly used in medical equipment, consumer electronics, and defense. It has raised the chances of restricting rare earth supply to America, although no formal steps have been announced.
In retaliatory duties on $75 billion of U.S. products announced late on Friday, China’s Ministry of Finance levied a 5% duty on imports of permanent rare earth magnets from the USA from Dec. 15, although such imports were at a negligible 4 tonnes in the first half of 2019, customs records show.
Another essential rare earth product for the US is lanthanum, which is used in the oil-refining trade. China’s exports of lanthanum oxide to the USA stood at 966 tonnes in July, the customs data confirmed. That was the highest month-to-month sum since December 2018, more than double the 433 tonnes in June and up 119.5% annually.
Exports of lanthanum carbonate were at 119 tonnes, just below 120 tonnes in June and down 71.9% YOY.