China’s Competitiveness: Suntech

CSIS and Japan’s 21st Century Public Policy Institute have looked at five Chinese firms (Huawei, Lenovo, Suntech, Shanghai Auto, and China South Locomotive), examining the factors that led to their rise, their current state of competitiveness, and the policy implications. In addition to the case studies, a report was also done on the Chinese industrial policymaking process. The policymaking report serves as a primer on the policymaking process and provides an in depth look at actual cases, including the strategic emerging industries policy development. This project was made possible by generous support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. is the world's largest producer of solar panels, with 1,572 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) panels shipped at the end of 2010 and estimates for 2,200 MW by the end of 2011. According to the company, Suntech has offices or production facilities in every major market and has delivered more than 13,000,000 solar panels to thousands of companies in more than 80 countries around the world. Suntech brands itself as being able to offer high conversion efficiency, quality of manufacture, and strong warranties to secure a competitive advantage in the solar market. While Suntech’s markets have primarily been in Europe, especially Spain and Germany, its market share in both China and the Americas is growing rapidly. The company employed around 20,000 people as of early 2012, but saw its market capitalization drop from around $600 million to $150 million over the course of the year.

Nathaniel Ahrens