Chinese Government to Support Clean Tech Exports with $2.9 Billion

November 30, 2009 | Yael Borofsky,

The Export-Import Bank of China inked a $2.9 billion deal last week to finance exports of China Energy Conservation Investment Corporation (CECIC), out-doing a $250 million outlay announced by the U.S. Export Import Bank earlier this month.

Charles R. McElwee, based in the Shanghai law office of Squire, Sanders, and Dempsey LLP, told the Wall Street Journal:

"This swamps any U.S. [government] initiatives to support exports,"

China's Ex-Im Bank is also financing the controversial 600 MW Texas wind farm, which will be the first U.S. project to use imported Chinese turbines. The Ex-Im Bank supports companies like CECIC, an energy-efficiency and renewable energy project developer, because they tend to have less access to the global banking system. Government support for clean tech export financing will further boost Chinese exports of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies to international markets, particularly in developed countries, where demand for clean energy technologies is greatest.

As Reuters reported in early November, even though the U.S. Ex-Im Bank's $250 million dollar export finance plan is designed to make the U.S. competitive in the clean energy technology export market, in comparison, the Chinese Ex-Im Bank's investment will be more than an order of magnitude greater - making the U.S. investment look like pocket change.

This clean energy export investment gap has significant implications for U.S. economic competitiveness, according to a recent report by the Breakthrough Institute and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Failing to develop a strong clean energy export market in the U.S. could jeopardize its economic recovery and long-term global competitiveness while making it even more difficult to reduce the U.S. trade deficit. As China moves to dominate burgeoning clean energy markets, the U.S. will rely overwhelmingly on clean energy imports from China, as well as Japan and South Korea, if it does not actively support the development of an export-oriented clean tech manufacturing base here in the United States.

While the U.S. is making efforts to support the growth of domestic clean energy markets, its current and prospective clean energy policies are more indirect and will likely generate less clean tech investment than the direct, cohesive, large-scale investments China is making to lead the world in clean energy. Export financing is just another example of how an insufficient level of direct public investment in clean energy technology could ultimately cost the U.S. global leadership in what promises to be a trillion dollar market as well as the ability to domestically produce the technologies that will fuel a clean energy future.