Engineering News

China Says U.S. Clean Energy Projects Violate WTO Rules
August 20, 2012

China's Commerce Ministry on Monday said six renewable energy projects in five U.S. states have violated global trade rules, following a nine-months-long probe, but it stopped short of announcing any penalties.

The ministry's announcement is the latest in a string of tit-for-tat moves in the clean energy sector which have pit China against its two-largest trade partners, the U.S. and European Union. China's ruling comes as clean energy policy is becoming an issue in the U.S. presidential elections and at a time when demand for wind and solar-power equipment from Europe is falling.

China's commerce ministry said in its final ruling that the projects, including a solar-power venture in Massachusetts and a wind-power one in Ohio, received subsidies that violated World Trade Organization rules and served as trade barriers to Chinese exports to the U.S.

The ministry also cited renewable energy projects in Washington state, New Jersey and California, without elaborating.

China calls on the U.S. to cancel practices that are not in line with WTO rules and to "give Chinese renewable energy products fair treatment," it said in a statement on its website.

The ministry started an investigation in November on behalf of industry associations representing Chinese exporters and renewable energy companies.

Parallel to this have been moves in the U.S. against Chinese-made clean energy equipment, with the Commerce Department announcing a series of provisional and final duties against imports over the past six months.

U.S. renewable energy policies have come under scrutiny during the U.S. presidential race, with Republican candidate Mitt Romney criticizing the Obama administration for claimed over-subsidizing of the clean energy industry. Romney has also said that if president, he would stand up to China on trade and demand it plays by global trade rules.

China's clean energy ties with the E.U., too, are strained. Four Chinese solar companies last week urged the commerce ministry to start an investigation into claimed support given to polysilicon imported from Europe, after it took similar moves against imports from South Korea and the U.S.

Polysilicon is the raw material used in most solar panels.

In July, Germany-based SolarWorld AG (SWV.XE), one of Europe's largest solar panel makers, along with other European companies, filed a complaint with the European Commission seeking tariffs on Chinese-made panels, alleging that Chinese manufacturers received illegal subsidies and were dumping at below-cost prices.

Source: Dow Jones Newswires

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