To fully grasp the importance of trade in the high-tech economy, imagine a scenario even beyond what the candidates suggest: what if Apple tried to make an iPhone out of “American atoms,” so that the U.S. would not be at all reliant on foreign governments for access to the necessary materials?
According to King at the Ames Lab, an iPhone has about 75 elements in it—two-thirds of the periodic table. Even just the outside of an iPhone relies heavily on materials that aren’t commercially available in the U.S. Aluminum comes from bauxite, and there are no major bauxite mines in the U.S. (Recycled aluminum would have to be the domestic source.