The Glass Bottom?
Posted by scapozzola on 01/19/2010
New York Times reporter Louis Uchitelle reports today that the U.S. glass industry is struggling to survive against subsidized competition from China. Overall U.S. glass industry employment has declined 30 percent over the last nine years, to fewer than 95,000 workers. Most significantly, the construction of the new World Trade Center in New York City will feature blast-proof Chinese glass for the first 20 stories now under construction. As Uchitelle reports, "The lower floors of the new [WTC] will soon be sheathed in Chinese glass":
Beijing Glass won in the bidding to supply the opaque, blast-resistant glass for the first 20 floors of the new tower, which is now just seven stories of steel beams, a stub along the Lower Manhattan skyline, and still dwarfed by the huge cranes putting the framework in place.How has China managed to capture such a major share of the world glass market, including the contract to supply glass for an American landmark? An AAM study released in October, 2009 shows that China boosted its glass production between 2004-2008 with roughly $30 billion in energy subsidies. China's glass production jumped 67% in that time, and it is now the world's largest producer of glass and glass products. Despite the fact that three U.S. glass manufacturers, including Pittsburgh-headquartered PPG Industries, spent months working with WTC 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. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), says that because of the important national symbolism of the new World Trade Center tower, awarding the glass contracts to subsidized Chinese producers is a "blow to national pride":
“Imagine China building a huge structure intended to be an important national symbol and importing glass from the United States to build it. There is no way the Chinese would do that.”Read the full NY Times article here. Read AAM's groundbreaking study of Chinese subsidies for glass production here.
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