China Supplants Germany as Top Global Exporter

Three leading Western media firms (the Financial Times, New York Times and Washington Post) have interesting stories on the state of the Chinese economy.  China is the leading exporter of goods in the world; a leading polluter; and a growing manufacturer of automobiles.

From the Financial Times:

China overtook Germany last year to become world export champion, official figures confirmed on Tuesday.

December trade figures for Germany highlighted the hit Europe’s largest economy took in 2009 from the collapse in global economic confidence at the start of the year. German goods’ exports fell by 18.4 per cent compared with the previous year – the biggest year-on-year fall since 1950, according to the federal statistics office.

From the New York Times:

BEIJING — China’s government on Tuesday unveiled its most detailed survey ever of the pollution plaguing the country, revealing that water pollution in 2007 was more than twice as severe as official figures that had long omitted agricultural waste.

The first-ever national pollution census, environmentalists said, represented a small step forward for China in terms of transparency. But the results also raised serious questions about the shortcomings of China’s previous pollution data and suggested that even with limited progress in some areas, the country still had a long way to go to clean its waterways and air.

The pollution census, scheduled to be repeated in 2020, took more than two years to complete. It involved 570,000 people, and included 1.1 billion pieces of data from nearly 6 million sources of pollution, including factories, farms, homes and pollution-treatment facilities, the government announced at a news conference.

From the Washington Post:

America’s auto titans are dismantling their global empires. But across the Pacific, it’s as if the global economic forces that have pummeled Detroit never struck. Chinese auto sales are up, and this year China is projected to displace Japan as the world’s largest car producer.

Now, the auto world is buzzing that China’s auto industry may try to pick up the pieces of Detroit — at a bargain.

Chinese companies have tried to dampen speculation, issuing regulatory filings that deny bids to buy Ford’s Volvo or General Motor’s Saab. But there’s little doubt among analysts that Chinese automakers are interested in the United States and that Detroit’s automakers are interested in them.

Buying up iconic brands such as Hummer or Saturn could supply Chinese automakers with the technological expertise to help them leapfrog past long-established competitors, said Kelly Sims Gallagher, a lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, who wrote a book on Chinese automakers.

“That’s where Chinese firms are weakest,” she said. “They have world-class business and manufacturing capabilities now. What they still lack is technological know-how, systems integration, being able to design new vehicles from scratch and get them to a manufacturing line.”

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