Special Report

Eight Industries the U.S. Has Lost to China

 5. Autos

> China production: 18.3 million autos in 2010
> U.S. production: 7.8 million autos in 2010
> U.S. position: 3rd

Automotive manufacturing is considered one of the U.S.’s most critical industries. But in recent years, other countries have surpassed the U.S., which is now the third-largest producer of autos in the world, according to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. The American auto industry nearly collapsed in 2008, requiring massive federal support for General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Chrysler. By 2010, the U.S. manufactured 7.8 million cars and commercial vehicles. Japan, which is headquarters to major brands such as Toyota (NYSE: TM), Honda (NYSE: HMC), Nissan, and Mazda, produced 9.6 million vehicles — the second most — although damage caused by the earthquake has hurt production in the country. China is the world’s largest carmaker, producing 18.3 million in 2010.

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6. Beer Production
> China production: 443.8 million hectoliters in 2010
> U.S. production: 227.8 million hectoliters in 2010
> U.S. position: 2nd

The U.S. lost its top position even in beer production. In 2000, the U.S. beer industry was the greatest in the world, producing 232 million hectoliters, compared with China’s 220 million. One decade later, and China is in first place, generating 443.8 million hectoliters of beer, versus the U.S.’s 227.8 million. Not only does China have a population that is more than four times that of the U.S., but beer consumption in the country has increased dramatically in recent years. According to the World Health Organization, the average Chinese citizen drank about half a bottle of beer in 1961. By 2007, that amount had increased to 103 beers per year.

7. High-Technology Exports
> China production: $348 billion in 2009
> U.S. production: $142 billion in 2009
> U.S. position: 2nd

High-technology exports are defined as “products with high R&D intensity, such as in aerospace, computers, pharmaceuticals, scientific instruments, and electrical machinery,” according to the World Bank. The U.S. remains home to the largest pharmaceutical industry in the world, and the rest of industries mentioned are also huge domestically. According to the World Bank, China began earning more from high-technology exports than the U.S. as recently as 2005. In 2009, Chinese high-technology exports were worth $348 billion. High-technology exports from the U.S. were worth a more modest $142 billion.

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8. Coal Production
> China production: 3.24 billion short tons produced in 2010
> U.S. production: 985 million tons produced in 2010
> U.S. position: 2nd

America led the world in coal production up until 1984, and it is now a distant second to China. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, the U.S. produced just under 1 billion tons of coal in 2010. China produced more than three times that amount, generating 3.2 billion short tons. There has been exponential growth in the Chinese energy infrastructure in the past decade. Since 2005, American coal production has decreased slightly, while Chinese production has increased by nearly 38%. Despite the U.S.’s decline in coal production, it is still the world’s second-largest producer, and combined, the two countries account for more than half of the world’s total coal production.

Charles B. Stockdale, Douglas A. McIntyre

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