There has been much tension in the renewables industry as the U.S.-China trade dispute progresses. Valid arguments for and against the suit have been made clear, and the ITC (International Trade Commission) has determined that Chinese solar panel imports are harming the U.S. solar manufacturing industry. Now all we can do is wait for the ITC and Department of Commerce (DOC) to continue their investigations.
But while all this excitement plays out, a small U.S.-funded program has been ignoring the hype and pressing on. The Green Export Enabler Program (GEEP) is a grant-funded initiative that specifically enables green U.S. exports to China. Its seven-step program is tailored to guide U.S. companies (with at least 51 percent U.S. content) to get their technology and products in China.
I caught up with the program at step six — the 2011 Eco Expo Asia in Hong Kong. At the show, the GEEP program anchored the U.S. Pavillion, which was filled with companies looking to export their products. How did they get there? According to the GEEP website, after a $1,000 enrollment fee, the client then recieves a $1,500 offset for their export activities in China. All clients generally follow these steps:
- Step 1: Customized Competitive Audit and Consulting
- Step 2: Customized Export Readiness Assessment
- Step 3: Workshops on All Aspects of Exporting
- Step 4: Customized China Entry Strategy and Action Plan
- Step 5: Market Promotion and Matchmaking Events
- Step 6: Representative Office/Showroom in Hong Kong
- Step 7: Export Financing and Transaction Support
The program hopes to take advantage of the massive need for clean resources in China, with a specific focus in Hong Kong. According to Kerry Bonner, GEEP project manager, the program communicates with government ministers to determine products that cities require; these decisions determine potentially successful companies. Once a company makes an agreement, the program aids in establishing a long-term presence for expansion — this includes patent protection.
Ryan Mulholland, trade specialist at the U.S. Department of Commerce, notes in a DOC newsletter that due to China’s rapidly developing economy, increasing energy concerns and environmental pressures makes this the perfect time for renewables trade investment. During Mulholland’s presentation at the Expo, he emphasized Hong Kong and its healthy mix of incentives and investment opportunity, which is enhanced by a highly skilled, educated workforce. These factors allow for significant trade opportunities in the U.S.
“A lot of renewable technology we enjoy today is because of research and development in the United States. We need to invest in U.S. research and academic establishments to get our technology to China,” said Mulholland. “During this recession, renewables have still grown. And when the global economy picks up, there will be even more growth.”