While the subsidies are mostly aimed at vehicles made in North America, the law has specific country-origination mandates for battery components and minerals, with the implicit aim to exclude China, which dominates the industry and the mining or processing of key materials like rare earths, graphite, cobalt and lithium. Potential deals on critical minerals with the EU and Japan would allow their firms to reap some benefits from the billions of dollars in tax breaks expected for EVs in last year’s climate legislation.

And while the world still has an extremely long way to go to trim its reliance on China, the very fact that U.S. efforts are underway to secure supplies with allies marks a key national security point for the Biden administration.
Unions, including the United Steelworkers, want the agreement to be limited to about five minerals the U.S. can’t produce domestically, according to one person who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.

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Other Unions Begin Asking

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