Environmental news from California and beyond

« Previous Post | Greenspace Home | Next Post »

Obama administration files WTO complaint against China over wind power subsidies

December 22, 2010 |  4:50 pm

Wind The Obama administration on Wednesday backed the United Steelworkers union in its accusation that China is giving an illegal boost to wind power manufacturers there.

By filing a case with the World Trade Organization, the U.S. is challenging the Asian superpower’s speedy ascent in the clean-tech and renewable energy market.

The complaint concerns a Chinese government incentive program that subsidizes turbine makers. But hundreds of millions of dollars in funds, according to the U.S., are only doled out to companies that use Chinese-made components to the exclusion of parts produced overseas.

The game of favorites claim violates international trade regulations, according to the U.S. case, which echoes a complaint filed by the United Steelworkers with the federal government in September. Officials agreed in October to investigate the claims of Chinese protectionism and discrimination in the clean-tech sector.

The dispute will go before a special World Trade Organization panel if it cannot be resolved through negotiations.

“These subsidies effectively operate as a barrier to U.S. exports to China,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk in a statement. “Our decision today … underscores our commitment to ensuring a level playing field with China for American workers and businesses.”

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Workers examine giant blades to be used as part of wind turbines at the Vestas Wind Technology (China) Co. Ltd. factory in Tianjin, China. Credit: Ng Han Guan / Associated Press