China’s government has ruled that US government support to six US solar and wind-power projects violates free-trade rules, adding to strains between Beijing and its trading partners over renewable energy.
The US and China are the two biggest markets for renewable energy and have pledged to cooperate in developing technology. They accuse each other of improperly supporting their own producers and obstructing foreign competitors.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announcement on Monday made no mention of possible penalties, but called on Washington to stop the support that it said violates WTO rules.
Beijing is in the midst of a series of trade disputes with the US and EU over market access and government subsidies for solar, wind and other renewable energy industries.
Monday’s announcement said US government subsidies to wind, solar and hydro projects in Washington state, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey and California acted as a barrier to imports, but gave no details. It called on the US government to give Chinese renewable energy products “fair treatment.”
TIT FOR TAT
The Chinese probe was launched in November last year two weeks after Washington said it would investigate whether Beijing is inappropriately subsidizing its own makers of solar panels, allowing them to flood the US market with low-priced products and hurt US competitors.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it was acting on complaints by trade groups for Chinese producers of clean energy technology that said they were hurt by the US policies.
Trade tensions over renewable energy are especially sensitive at a time when the US and other Western economies want to boost technology exports to revive economic growth and cut high unemployment. Both China and the US are promoting their own suppliers in hopes of generating higher-paid technology jobs.
Last month, European manufacturers of solar cells asked the EU to raise tariffs on imports of Chinese equipment that they say benefits from improper subsidies.
Beijing is investigating complaints that imports of polysilicon — the raw material for solar cells — from the US and South Korea receive banned subsidies.