The impact of the EU Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) on importing from Asia

European importers and the challenge of critical raw materials

The introduction of the EU Critical Raw Materials Act marks an important shift in European policy aimed at securing access to essential raw materials. These raw materials are vital for the economic and technological progress of countries in the European Union. For European companies that depend on the import of these materials from Asia, this law will bring significant changes. This article provides an in-depth analysis of this new legislation and provides practical steps for European importers to comply with the new requirements.

The importance of the EU Critical Raw Materials Act

With the Critical Raw Materials Act, the EU underlines the strategic importance of a reliable and sustainable supply of critical raw materials. These materials are of great importance for key sectors such as renewable energy, digital technologies and defense. The law is designed to reduce the EU's dependence on imports from Asia, especially imports from China. At the same time, the EU wants to increase its domestic production and recycling. The aim is to make the European economy more resilient and self-sufficient, an ambition that will undoubtedly have consequences for European importers.

The EU Critical Raw Materials Act currently still has the status of "proposal" and has not yet been converted into law.

The challenges for European importers

European companies that import (products made from) critical raw materials from Asia face the challenge of adapting their supply chains to the stricter requirements of the EU. The legislation emphasizes the importance of sustainable and ethical sourcing of materials, meaning European importers must meet environmental and social criteria. This will require a detailed reassessment of current supply chains and potentially substantial changes to the way companies operate. The focus on sustainability and ethics in the supply chain is not only a legal requirement but also increasingly an expectation from consumers.

Steps for compliance

  1. Supply chain audit: An important first step is a comprehensive audit of the current supply chain. Importers must examine all aspects of their supply chain, from the source of raw materials to delivery to the end user. This helps to identify possible risks and dependencies.
  2. Diversification: Diversifying suppliers and exploring alternative sources for critical raw materials is crucial. This can help reduce the risks of supply chain disruptions and reduce dependence on a single market or region.
  3. Responsible sourcing: European importers must implement responsible sourcing principles. This means that they must ensure that their products are extracted and produced with respect for the environment and human rights. Transparency and auditability of the supply chain are essential.
  4. Transparency and reporting: Increasing transparency within the supply chain and regularly reporting on efforts and compliance to European partners and regulators is of great importance. This builds trust and shows commitment to the new EU standards.
  5. Innovation and recycling: Investments in technologies for the recycling of critical raw materials and the development of alternative materials are important. This not only supports compliance but also contributes to a company's sustainability goals.

Read more:

low angle photo of cherry blossoms tree

What are the best alternatives to importing from China in 2024?

Rising labor costs, geopolitical tensions and supply chain disruptions have many companies looking to alternatives to China.

Read more

Extensive list of critical raw materials and their applications

Below is a detailed list of critical raw materials covered by the EU Critical Raw Materials Act, with an explanation of their uses:

  • Antimony: Used in flame retardants, lead-acid batteries, and as a catalyst in the chemical industry.
  • Cobalt: Essential for the production of rechargeable batteries, superalloys and catalysts.
  • Lithium: Critical for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and portable electronics.
  • Rare earth metals: Important for permanent magnets in wind turbines, electric vehicles, and in various high-tech applications.
  • Tantalum: Used in electronic components such as capacitors and in alloys for heat-resistant equipment.
  • Tungsten: Used in carbide and steel alloys, as well as in lighting and electronics.
  • Graphite: Indispensable for the production of battery anode in lithium-ion batteries and as a lubricant.
  • Beryllium: Used in aerospace for light alloys, and in electronics for heat-resistant parts.
  • Gallium: Essential for semiconductors, LED lighting, and solar cells.
  • Indium: Important for touchscreens, LCD screens, and thin-film solar panels.
  • Platinum Group Metals (PGMs): Used in automotive catalysts, in fuel cells, and for jewelry.

These materials are crucial for today's and future technologies and industries. European companies importing these raw materials from Asia must therefore closely monitor the requirements of the EU Critical Raw Materials Act and adapt their supply chain strategies accordingly.


The EU Critical Raw Materials Act presents both challenges and opportunities for European importers. By proactively complying with the new regulations, companies can not only maintain their access to the European market but also contribute to a more sustainable and resilient global economy. Adapting to this legislation requires careful planning, investments in sustainable practices, and a long-term view on supply chain management. However, the benefits of compliance are significant, ranging from a strong market position to contributing to global sustainability goals.

Do you need help with a risk analysis of your supply chain from Asia?

Contact us today for more information.

Share this post
Biodegradable vs. compostable vs. biobased: the meaning and the difference
Towards a greener future: The importance of sustainable import practices