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China will invest $1.7 trillion in clean energy

Chinese government says it’s time to level the playing field and grant more access to its markets for foreign economies


November 21, 2011
by The Canadian Press

BEIJING—The U.S. Commerce Secretary says Chinese officials promised foreign technology suppliers equal access to their clean energy industry in trade talks amid pressure to revive global growth.

John Bryson says Chinese officials told him the country will invest $1.7 trillion over the next five years in clean energy and other emerging technologies.

He said they pledged a “level playing field” for U.S. and other foreign suppliers.

International suppliers of wind and solar components complain Beijing improperly supports their Chinese rivals. Business groups say the government is trying to limit foreign involvement in China’s blossoming clean energy industry.

The issue is sensitive for Western economies counting on technology exports to improve flagging economic growth and unemployment.

The Chinese government has promised grants, tax breaks, and other support to promote “strategic industries” including environmental and information technology, biotechnology and high-end manufacturing.

The U.S.-Chinese committee aims to defuse trade tensions by focusing on individual policy disputes.

Previous meetings produced pledges by the Chinese government to lower barriers to imports of American beef and to fight iffy software piracy, the two governments have signed agreements to improve co-operation on intellectual property, technology, energy, trade statistics and business relations.

The meeting came amid increased demands by some U.S. lawmakers for punitive tariffs on Chinese goods if Beijing fails to ease exchange-rate controls.

They say China’s yuan is kept undervalued, giving its exporters an unfair trade advantage and wiping out jobs in the U.S.

But Beijing is also uneasy about the U.S.’s moves to expand its political and military presence in Asia.

The U.S. trade deficit with China hit a monthly high of $29 billion in August and is on track to surpass last year’s $273 billion, the highest ever recorded with a single country.