China Surges In Renewable Energy, Vehicles In BF’s Annual Rankings Of Global Leaders

After a couple of years of neck-and-neck finishes, China has surged ahead of the United States in Business Facilities’ 2013 global ranking for Renewable Energy Investment Leaders.

Chinese investments in renewable energy grew by 22 percent in 2012, solidifying its hold on first place in BF‘s annual renewable energy ranking. The U.S. held onto second place, but its investments declined by 36 percent last year. Japan, with renewable energy investments surging by 73 percent, vaulted into fourth place from its no. 8 finish in our 2012 global ranking.

According to an annual report issued by the United Nation’s UNEP agency, worldwide investments in renewables totaled $244 billion, only the second year since 2006 that this benchmark failed to top the previous year’s tally. UNEP attributed this lag to a dramatic decline in the price of solar panels, which caused rollbacks or cancellations of planned solar panel manufacturing expansions. The price collapse was caused mainly by the huge subsidies China bestowed on its burgeoning solar panel manufacturing sector.

Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers noted that China’s status as the alternative energy leader may not last long, because Chinese dumping of underpriced photovoltaic panels has been successfully challenged by the United States in the World Trade Organization and negotiations are underway to eliminate the PRC’s subsidies.

China also emerged as the world’s leading automotive production power in a new global ranking released this week by BF, a national publication focused on site selection and economic development.

According to OICS (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles), China produced almost as many vehicles last year as the U.S. and Japan combined. Thanks to the revival of the U.S. automotive industry, the United States (10.3 million vehicles) edged past Japan (9.9 million) into second place. However, it should be noted that U.S. totals benefit from production at Japanese transplants in the United States.

“We’ll give China the benefit of the doubt that they’re not counting troop transports for the People’s Liberation Army as well as new cars for a growing middle class,” Rogers said. “But there’s no disputing that China is a global force to be reckoned with in automotive manufacturing.”

The United States continued to slip in Global Competitiveness (Foreign Direct Investment) which is based on the World Economic Forum’s annual evaluation. In the 2013 ranking, the U.S. slipped to 7th place from its no. 5 showing in 2012. Switzerland and Singapore repeated in the top two slots, respectively, while Finland edged out Sweden for third place.

The United States dominated most annual global competitiveness evaluations—holding first place for decades—until it was overtaken by Switzerland after the global financial collapse in 2008.

Rogers noted that a rebound in America’s competitiveness standing may depend on action from China.

“The new government leadership in China apparently has given the green light for at least a $1 trillion in new Chinese investments in the U.S.,” Rogers said. “If they follow through on that, the United States will probably have a better showing in next year’s competitiveness ranking.

In other BF global rankings, London was named the top global financial center, followed by New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Zurich. South Korea, which has installed the fastest broadband network in the world, remained atop our ICT Leaders ranking.

The complete results of Business Facilities’ 9th Annual Rankings Report will be posted on the BF website on August 5. The results also will be featured in the cover story of BF’s July/August issue.