Trade in Raw Materials

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Export Restrictions in Raw Materials Trade: Facts, Fallacies and Better Practices

Compare your country is a service provided by the OECD. You are invited to share this tool or to embed it into your website. OECD Terms and Conditions apply.

Traditional industries producing goods such as motor vehicles and machinery are major consumers of metals and minerals as inputs. A range of new technologies has created additional demand for many industrial raw materials, often used in very small quantities not visible to end-consumers. Metals and minerals are used to produce mobile phones, computers and other electronics, environmental goods such as wind turbines, hybrid cars and LED lightbulbs, and transport vehicles from jets to passenger cars. Up to 50 different metals and minerals are present in mobile phones; over 20 different ones are needed to produce one hybrid car.

No one country is self-sufficient in every raw material. Moreover, virtually all countries are vulnerable to any attempt to restrict the export of at least some commodities. Notwithstanding that resource nationalism is increasingly at odds with the interdependence of economies in the 21st century, the use of export restrictions to regulate the supply and trade in these materials has increased. Export restrictions have contributed to episodes of global supply shortages and strong swings in prices. They have also become a source of friction and open trade disputes between governments using them and affected trading partners.

The OECD has inventoried export restricting measures placed on 66 metals and minerals by all major exporters. This Inventory of export restrictions includes export bans, quotas, taxes, non-automatic licenses and any other export restricting measures. A hierarchy has been established based on the trade distorting potential of each measure. The Inventory has been combined with production and reserves data collected by the US Geological Survey, and trade data from UN-Comtrade, to provide a more comprehensive picture of global metals and minerals markets.

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Most restrictive trade measure = export prohibition
= export quota = export tax = non-automatic licensing
= other measures = no restrictions = not researched