In the Pathfinder project “The Market for Critical Raw Materials: A long-term Perspective”, the Research Unit International Economics collaborates with the Empirical Economic Research Unit in order to economically analyze the characteristics of the market for critical raw materials. The term critical raw materials describes minerals and metals which play an important role for future high-tech industries in Europe and which can only be imported from one or few non-European countries.
The criteria which classify a raw material as critical from an economic perspective are part of the object of investigation of the project. Not only the size of the reserves is relevant but also the political framework of the country of origin and its relationships to the EU as well as the relative importance and substitutability of the raw materials for the production process of downstream industries and for the economy as a whole. A special focus of the project lies on the impacts of possible limitations for international trade of critical raw materials and the elasticity of substitution in the production, which makes an improved risk assessment possible.