June 19, 2018 Read More →

Trump tariffs threaten Chinese investments in West Virginia energy sector

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Brian Anderson was hoping not to be alone at the podium at the Westin Convention Center on Monday morning. He was hoping to be flanked by officials from China Energy Investment Corp. and to watch the crowd’s eyes widen as the CEO of the Chinese giant announced its first few projects in the U.S. This was to be the first tangible milestone of a bombshell agreement announced in November between China Energy and West Virginia—one that promised the possibility of nearly $84 billion in Chinese investment in the tri-state area in shale gas and chemical manufacturing industries over two decades.

Three weeks ago, Mr. Anderson, who directs the West Virginia University Energy Institute, got the call he was expecting. The trip to Pittsburgh was canceled. The reason: a pending trade war between the U.S. and China.

Following weeks of threats, the Trump administration announced $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods last week, and China retaliated with tariffs on U.S. products.

Mr. Anderson has been working closely with China Energy, a company he said has “a vision to become a much more Western corporation,” but is still 60 percent state-owned. “Their orders and their travel authority comes from the Chinese government,” he said. Given escalating talk of more tariffs, “It was not the time that they were going to show up and announce the project,” Mr. Anderson said.

West Virginia officials helped the Chinese investment firm map out a portfolio of possible projects to fill up that $84 billion bucket. The projects range from $600 million to $20 billion each and include anything that happens downstream from the fractionator, Mr. Anderson said.

“The pending trade war has put this project in jeopardy,” Mr. Anderson said.

More: China hits pause on Appalachian energy investment citing trade war concerns

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