August 20, 2018

China Files Complaint With WTO Over US Solar Tariffs

Late on Tuesday China finally moved to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding the United States’ import tariffs on solar PV products which it believes violate WTO regulations.

Ever since US President Donald Trump in January imposed a 30% tariff on imported solar cells and modules in response to a Section 201 trade case that ran through the country’s International Trade Commission (ITC), the global solar industry has been in flux — though this has not been helped by China’s own decision to impose restrictions on its own solar capacity installations this year.

Similarly, many analysts and experts have been waiting for China to evaluate the full extent of the trade war the United States has initiated and decide on a course of action. Other than implementing their own wide-ranging import tariffs on American goods, China has this week taken the next step in support of its solar manufacturing industry by filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the United States’ 30% safeguard tariffs on imported solar cells and modules, as well as the country’s renewable energy subsidies which, China claims, in concert with the tariffs creates “an unfair competitive advantage” for US-based companies and damages “the legitimate rights and interests of China’s renewable energy companies.”

According to a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, “The measures taken by the United States, both procedurally and physically, are suspected of violating the WTO Agreement on Safeguards. This act of abuse of safeguards not only harms the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese side, but also affects the seriousness and authority of the WTO rules.”

“While taking safeguard measures against imported PV products,” the spokesperson continued, “the US side provides additional subsidies to renewable energy products such as photovoltaics manufactured in the country, which are suspected of forming import substitution subsidies and violating national treatment obligations.”

“The above-mentioned violations by the US have seriously distorted the international market for products such as photovoltaics and seriously damaged China’s trade interests. The Chinese side’s resort to the US dispute resolution mechanism is a necessary measure to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests and maintain multilateral trade rules.”

China’s “Request for Consultations” to the United States WTO delegation cites numerous issues with the United States’ decision to impose tariffs, specifically as it pertains to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and the Agreement on Safeguards.

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