Raw materials are the basis of a large number of industrial value chains in the EU. Specific raw materials are needed to make a wide range of industrial goods such as car engines, mobile phones or wind turbines.
EU raw materials' industry in a nutshell
- A large number of industries use raw materials as inputs, providing a total added value of €1300 billion.
- 30 million people employed in the raw materials' industrial sector
- A sustainable supply of particular raw materials is of crucial importance for the development of green technologies
EU-Trade raw materials in figures (2011)
|Trade||Total EU imports||Total EU exports|
|EU-28 trade in raw materials (including energy products)||669||263|
|EU-28 trade in non-energy raw materials||196||117|
EU Trade policy and raw materials
Raw materials play a significant role for the EU trade policy. In concrete terms, the European Commission developed a fully-fledged strategy for raw materials, which was outlined in the 2008 Communication entitled the Raw Materials Initiative. This was revised in February 2011 in a Communication, which further boosted the integration of raw material priorities in EU policies.
EU Trade policy is actively committed to ensure that the international raw materials markets operate in a free and transparent way. For this purpose, the EU’s trade strategy relies on three pillars:
- Definition of the rules of the game through bilateral and multilateral negotiations
- Enforcing the rules and tackling market barriers when required
- Promotion of the debate on raw materials, both in bilateral and multilateral settings.
Results on raw materials
- EU-Korea FTA includes the prohibition of duties, taxes or other fees on exportation.
- Upcoming EU-Singapore FTA includes the prohibition of duties, taxes or measures of an equivalent effect on exportation.
- EU and Central America, and Colombia/Peru trade agreements include a prohibition of export duties or taxes, with some minor exceptions.
- WTO accession Tajikistan: a commitment was secured on the prohibition of export duties or taxes, except for a list of products with bound rates.
- WTO raw materials’ cases against China: successful conclusion of the first WTO case against China’s export restrictions on 9 raw materials (bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorus and zinc) which were found in violation of WTO rules and of China’s commitments; a second case has been launched in 2012 against export restrictions applied by China on another set of products (rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum).
- Outreach and transparency work in the OECD outreach to third non-OECD countries is on-going, notably in close cooperation with the OECD.
More on raw material
- DG Trade - Raw materials policy 2009 annual report
- EU Trade Policy for Raw Materials - Second Activity Report (issued in May 2012)
- DG Enterprise and Industry's webpage: Raw Materials – International Aspects