Through China’s Looking Glass: Subsidies to the Chinese Glass Industry, 2004-2008

Usha C.V. Haley

Since 2003, glass production in China has increased by more than $576 million—more than 67 percent—according to the study by Dr. Usha Haley of Harvard University, Through China’s Looking Glass: Subsidies to Chinese Glass Industry from 2004-08. In fact, new production capacity in the glass industry of China in 2007 was nearly six times greater than that of 2003.

China’s domination of the global glass market already is having a significant effect, none more dramatically than in decisions made about construction of the new World Trade Center. The New York/New Jersey Port Authority has decided that Chinese-made glass will be used in the construction of the new tower.

Despite the fact that three U.S. glass manufacturers, including Pittsburgh-headquartered PPG Industries, spent months working with the tower architects to plan and develop a new kind of glass for floors one through 20, none of these American companies was awarded the contract to make the glass.

Prepared by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) with support from AAM, Dr. Haley’s study cites the Chinese glass industry’s three-fold increase in exports to the United States from 2000 to 2008. The U.S. trade deficit with China on glass also tripled in the same period.

China’s glass and glass-products industry received total subsidies approximating at least $30.29 billion from 2004 to 2008. These subsidies spanned heavy oil, coal, electricity and soda ash and have been growing steadily in the period under study, reaching about 35 percent of gross industrial output value of glass in 2008.

China is currently the largest producer of glass and glass products, has the greatest number of glass-producing enterprises and has the largest number of float-glass production lines in the world. It has become the world’s largest exporter of flat glass and glass fiber.

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