(Reuters) – The United States, Japan, India and Australia will work to improve the security of supply chains for critical technologies such as clean energy and to ease a global semiconductor shortage, said Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The Quad nations, in their first in-person summit here on Friday in Washington, agreed on a partnership to secure critical infrastructure, the White House said.
Morrison told reporters after the meeting this will include connecting Australia’s raw minerals with manufacturing and processing capabilities, and with end users in the United States, India and Japan, according to a transcript released on Saturday by his government.
Australia is the world’s biggest supplier of rare earths outside of China, and is a major supplier of minerals used in electric vehicle batteries, such as nickel, copper and cobalt.
While the leaders did not publicly refer to China, they repeatedly insisted on rules-based behaviour in a region where China has been trying to flex its muscles. Beijing criticised the group as “doomed to fail.”
The other Quad leaders expressed appreciation for Australia’s role in supplying critical materials “because that is a necessary supply for the many industries and processing works that they operate themselves”, Morrison said.
“On critical minerals, Australia is one of the biggest producers, but we believe we can play a bigger role in a critical supply chain that is supporting the technologies of the future.”
Australia will host a clean-energy supply chain summit next year, aiming to develop a roadmap for building such supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region, Morrison said.
The Quad also discussed ways to better secure a semiconductor supply, Morrison said, as global carmakers and other manufacturers have cut production due to the shortage made worse by a COVID-19 resurgence in key Asian semiconductor production hubs.
“This is an ecosystem we want to create and we want to do that… in the region,” he said.