China says U.S. solar tariffs violate trade rules, lodges WTO complaint

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO:    Array of solar panels is seen in the desert in Victorville, California© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Array of solar panels is seen in the desert in Victorville, California

/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A U.S. decision to subsidize its renewable energy companies and impose tariffs on imported products has seriously distorted the global market and harmed China’s interests, China’s Ministry of Commerce said late on Tuesday.

Washington announced in January that was imposing what called safeguard tariffs over four years – a 30 percent tariff in the first year which would be reduced gradually to 15 percent in the fourth year.

China has lodged a complaint to the World Trade Organisation to help determine the legality of the U.S. policies, saying they not only harm China’s rights but also undermine the WTO’s authority, the ministry said on its website (http://www.mofcom.gov.cn).

“As the U.S. violations have severely distorted the global market for products like photovoltaics and seriously damaged China’s trade interests, China’s use of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism is a necessary measure to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests and maintain multilateral trade rules,” the statement said.

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The has accused China of using subsidies and bulk manufacturing capacity to drive down prices and put U.S. competitors out of business.

According to figures from the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA), U.S. solar module production capacity fell from 1.5 gigawatts in 2011 to 1 GW last year as a result of bankruptcies.

China’s solar power manufacturers could face a wave of closures after the country’s state planning agency announced plans to cap new capacity additions at just 30 gigawatts this year, down from a record 53 GW in 2017.

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Source: Investing.com