There is a global shortage of computer chips and the vital rare earth metals which are used in virtually all hi-tech products. Given our total reliance on technology, this could be a serious limiting factor on future economic growth.
The fear is that at a certain point, China, which controls 90 percent of supplies, may just halt shipments of lithium and other rare earth metals to the West. For that reason, UK officials have been meeting with their counterparts from Australia, Canada, Malawi and Tanzania in a bid to shore up supplies – an initiative reportedly code-named Project Defend. A side-deal on strategic metals could form part of the prospective UK-Australia trade deal. At the same time, the Americans are also wooing the Australians to get a slice of supplies of these precious commodities. The EU is also jostling to line up suppliers.