China-USA Trade: Indicators for Equitable and Environmentally Balanced Resource Exchange

Yong Geng*, Xu Tian, Joseph Sarkis, Sergio Ulgiati

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Trade needs to be evaluated by more comprehensive indicators that complement market-based economic value. The Emergy Accounting (EMA) method proved to be a valuable tool to help address trade complexity by means of environmental quality-oriented indicators. EMA is used in this paper to evaluate the environmental and resource flows involved in China-United States (USA) trade in the years 1993, 2000 and 2008. Results show that China emergy exports (i.e. exports of raw and less processed resources) exceed the imports from USA. Although the money received by China from exports is higher than the money paid for imports, the real imbalance relies in the huge amount of resources that outflow from China, hardly compensated by the value of imports in terms of support to Chinese economy. The conclusion is that trade accounting methods should include holistic valuations beyond the financial costs of traded goods. Policy implications of these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalEcological Economics
Issue numberFebruary
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 15.11.2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Equitable trade indicators
  • Emergy
  • China-USA trade
  • Resources use indicators


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