Electric batteries and critical materials dependency: a geopolitical analysis of the USA and the European Union

Publication Type:

Conference Paper

Authors:

Jetin, B.

Source:

Gerpisa colloquium, Brussels (2023)

Keywords:

China, cobalt, copper, critical minerals, Dependency, electric vehicles, EU, European Battery Alliance, graphite, Hirschman-Herfindahl Index, Imports, Inflation Reduction Act, lithium, Lithium-ion Battery, mining, nickel, Rare earth, Raw materials diplomacy, refinery, USA

Abstract:

This article estimates the import dependency of the USA and the European Union on the raw material needed to produce batteries that equip Electric Vehicles. The dependency is very high for many critical materials and for batteries themselves. In a geopolitical context marked by the rising US-China rivalry and new cold wars, this dependency has prompted the USA and the EU to support local mining and processing of critical materials in an attempt to recover strategic autonomy. They have also deployed raw material diplomacy to secure access to resource-rich countries by favouring allied countries whenever possible. Both decisions are difficult to implement, and progress will be slow. China's dominance over the electric battery will be difficult to circumscribe, especially since the USA, with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), does not hesitate to defend its interests at the expense of the EU. The result is a politicization of business, forcing global production networks to align themselves with the opposing blocs.

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