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USGNN Original StoryChina Becomes Number One Exporter of Glass Products

China exported more glass than any other country in 2006. Export of glass products from China has increased by 27.49 percent for the first half of the year, according to reports from China Knowledge. In 2006, the organization reports, China exported a total of $1 billion of glass products, making it the top exporter of glass products in the world.

Liu Jianping, vice chairperson of the association, told the organization that major developed countries, as well as China's neighboring countries, such as Japan and South Korea, have been experiencing a decline in production capacities of glass products. Looking ahead, China is likely to face more challenges in the glass manufacturing sector.

Michael Collins with investment banker Jordan, Knauff and Co., says he expects that China will retain this top spot into the foreseeable future.

"If anything, glass exports from China are likely to increase in the years ahead," he says. "As the growth of their domestic economy eventually slows, they will have less need for the glass they currently produce for use there. When that happens, they will increase their focus on exports and I won't be surprised if you see dumping allegations against Chinese glass companies."

Collins says that he has been contacted by a national law firm looking into dumping among Chinese door and window companies. "The Chinese government has recognized this problem and has taken measures to slow the growth in the number of float glass plants in China.

Not everyone agrees that China can retain its place as the biggest glass exporter in the world. "Their presence in the world export market will decrease for several reasons," says Russ Ebeid, president of Guardian Industries Corp.'s Glass Group.

According to Ebeid, "Currency exchange rates have narrowed the present Chinese price differential by over a half. And the Chinese are realizing that the quality of their glass is inferior and will shut down plants. While they may replace these with new ones, it won't be at the same number."

Both agree that value-added products will have to play a more important role, but in different contexts.

"The Chinese are increasingly concerned about pollution control and energy savings in their country, which will force the production of more value-added glass within China and reduce the levels of basic glass available for export," Ebeid says. "Chinese glass manufacturing won't stop but-will be less of a factor on the international stage going forward."

On the other hand, Collins says that it's likely domestic manufacturers will have to respond to increases in imports from China with new technology.

"In order to respond to these increased imports, U.S. manufacturers will have to focus on increasing the technology content of their products, whether in the areas of energy efficiency or regarding features like self-cleaning glass," Collins says.

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