Evolution of the rare earth trade network: A perspective of dependency and competition

Jilan Xu, Jiahao Li, Vincent Charles, Xin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


As a global strategic reserve resource, rare earth has been widely used in important industries, such as military equipment and biomedicine. However, existing analyses based solely on the total volume of rare earth trade fail to uncover the underlying competition and dependency dynamics. To address this gap, this paper employs the principles of trade preference and import similarity to construct dependency and competition networks. Complex network analysis is then employed to study the evolution of the global rare earth trade network from 2002 to 2018. The main conclusions are as follows. The global rare earth trade follows the Pareto principle, and the trade network shows a scale-free distribution. China has emerged as the world's largest importer and exporter of rare earth since 2017. In the dependency network, China has become the most dependent country since 2006. The result of community division shows that China has separated from the American community and formed new communities with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. The United States of America has formed a super-strong community with European and Asian countries. In the competition network, the distribution of competition intensity follows a scale-free distribution. Most countries face low-intensity competition, but there are numerous competing countries. The competition related to China has increased significantly. Lastly, the competition source for the United States of America has shifted from Mexico to China, resulting in China, the USA, and Japan becoming the core participants in the competition network.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101653
JournalGeoscience Frontiers
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Competition
  • Complex network analysis
  • Dependency
  • Rare earth
  • Trade network


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