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Minerals as Scarce Resources: The Quest for Secure and Sustainable Supply

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on a relatively narrow, although hugely significant, class of natural resources, namely minerals, and the legal approaches to handling scarcity or insecure supply in this area. Even this susceptibly discrete subsection of non-renewable natural resources is subject to a maze of conditions, perceptions and norms which influence the quest for secure and sustainable supply. Geological availability obviously varies tremendously between different mineral resources and must be approached on the level of individual minerals. The fact that the global trade regime represented by the World Trade Organization (WTO) does not provide a strong discipline on export restrictions has prompted large trading powers like the EU and the US to attempt to extract more far-reaching commitments in the context of regional trade agreements (RTAS). With respect to RTAS the situation is patchy and differences in rules may distort the operation of genuinely international raw materials markets.

Keywords: geological availability; global trade regime; international raw materials markets; mineral resources; non-renewable natural resources; regional trade agreements (RTAS); World Trade Organization (WTO)



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