More than half a trillion dollars’ worth of goods and services are traded by the world’s two leading economies, the United States and China. In 2011, the last year for which complete data were available for the purposes of this report, China exported $4 worth of goods and services for every $1 exported by the United States. Current trade flows reflect the reality that China is a low-cost producer and the United States a high-volume consumer of finished products. But underlying these truths is a trading relationship that is more nuanced, in which the United States has key strengths that often go unrecognized.
Clean energy is a recent contributor to the overall U.S.-China trade relationship as renewable and advanced energy systems have emerged as a global priority for economic progress, energy security, and environmental protection. It is well known that the United States and China are leaders in the global clean energy sector. But beyond overall investment and deployment data, there is a poor understanding of how the two clean energy superpowers interact in the sector.
Misunderstanding of clean energy trade realities is fed by broad-based turmoil in the marketplace resulting from intense international competitive pressures, rapid price declines, and policy uncertainty in U.S. and European markets. High-profile clean energy trade cases involving Chinese exports of photovoltaic (solar) cells and modules1 and wind turbine towers to the United States also amplify confusion about the nature of this trade between the two countries.
This report seeks to shed light on that relationship. Although the U.S.-China relationship in clean energy trade is still a relatively small portion of the total exchange of goods and services between them, it nevertheless is extensive. This report examines U.S.-China clean energy trade overall and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each country in the solar photovoltaic, wind, and energy smart-technology sectors.
Read the full report, "Advantage America: The U.S.-China Clean Energy Technology Trade Relationship in 2011."