U.S. and Japan Announce Partnership on Critical Mineral Supply Chains

The U.S. and Japan announced an agreement to strengthen and diversify the supply chains for critical minerals like those used in semiconductors and other cutting-edge technologies.

Under the agreement, which took effect immediately after it was signed on Tuesday, the U.S. and Japan agreed to partner in strengthening supply chains of critical minerals including cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese and nickel. The two countries committed to taking domestic actions to address non-market policies of other countries that distort trade in critical minerals and not impose export duties between the U.S. and Japan on critical minerals.

The agreement comes as China plays a central role in global supply chains for critical minerals, boasting the majority of refining capacity for cobalt, lithium and nickel. It is also increasingly exercising control over raw commodities in areas rich in critical minerals. For example, the Nigerian government recently made a deal with a Chinese firm to develop the country’s first lithium processing plant.

The agreement established best practices for reviewing investments made within the two countries’ critical mineral sectors by foreign entities. It also included measures to promote resource-efficient approaches to reduce the demand for, and environmental impact of, virgin material extraction of critical minerals.

The U.S. and Japan will also improve information-sharing and enforcement actions related to labor rights violations in the extraction and processing of critical minerals.