Europe needs to respond very quickly and in particular to ensure that it is not sidelined in a fierce trade war between China and the US. That's what Rutger van Raalden, CEO of carbon manufacturer CarbonX, says at BNR World Players. 'You have to innovate and we've always been good at that. But we are far behind China.'
Europe must innovate in trade war with China and US: 'We are far behind'
China is unhappy with new trade restrictions imposed by Brussels. It speaks of unilateral protectionism and urges the EU to reconsider its 'anti-globalisation measures'. It's still unclear whether China will retaliate with sanctions, but that doesn't necessarily bode well for bilateral relations. And many companies will also have to deal with the effects of export restrictions.
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As demand for raw materials rises, geopolitical tensions will increase further, Van Raelden predicts. Hence, there is no other option but to join China and the US, which have recently taken another big step with deflationary legislation. 'China started even earlier, so strategically that country has done better than us. There are different laws and rules, but it is very important that we as Europe respond quickly. I see opportunities with the advent of new funding and new legislation and regulations.
As a manufacturer of carbon materials that can act as a substitute for graphite, Van Raalten has a special position with his company CarbonX. Currently, 90 percent of graphite comes from China, but CarbonX can produce in Europe and the United States, so it can make up for the graphite shortage. He sees many battery manufacturers and auto companies waking up, partly because of the high demand for electric transportation. 'It's creating huge shortages and undue pressure on those supply chains.'
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Especially with the signing of the European Critical Raw Materials Act, there is an increasing focus on sourcing local raw materials, from which CarbonX is benefiting. There wasn't even a sophisticated plan behind it, Van Raalden admits. 'Always a little Coincidence: We wanted to develop our product for more durable car tires. But in the end we developed a material that does exactly the same as graphite, but with the great advantage that it can be produced in Europe.
Suit for car tire industry
Eventually, car manufacturers and battery manufacturers discovered CarbonX. The company has been working with companies suiting the car tire industry for years. It's all about bigger sizes and sizes now. Then there is pressure from geopolitics. That is why it is important that we as Europe respond quickly and ensure that we are not sidelined. I see it as an opportunity; You have to innovate, and we've always been good at it. But we are far behind.'
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