By Staff 9-13,2016
Wyoming is by far the top producer and exporter of soda ash in the United States, and it is a key part of the state’s economy. Unfortunately overcapacity in China has hurt Wyoming’s ability to export its own natural soda ash, which is an important chemical required to manufacture other material, such as glass and detergent.
U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis, all R-Wyo., recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, urging them to work with China to resolve the soda ash overcapacity issue in the upcoming U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade later this year.
“U.S. soda ash is the most competitive and environmentally-friendly in the world due to a unique natural deposit of the soda ash raw material trona located in Green River, Wyoming, from which the U.S. could supply world demand for 1,000 years,” the delegation wrote. “Roughly 55 percent of U.S. soda ash is exported, making soda ash America’s largest inorganic chemical export.”
Years of rapid production capacity increases have transformed China from a net importer of soda ash to the world’s largest soda ash producer. As China’s economic growth has slowed in recent years, China has targeted export markets for its excess capacity of soda ash, which in turn harms U.S. soda ash producers.
As the Wyoming delegation pointed out in its letter, not only is this an important issue for Wyoming, but even China’s own State Council has recognized that this overcapacity of soda ash must be resolved.
“China’s soda ash overcapacity is the culmination of nearly 30 years of industrial policies aimed at spurring soda ash production even in the face of diminished demand,” the delegation wrote.