SEMI proposes a way out of solar trade wars

01. March 2013 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers | By:  Max Hall

Global electronics manufacturing industry group SEMI has offered to step between the nations waging the current proliferation of solar trade disputes in an effort to find a way forward.

President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama's announcement last month of EU-U.S. trade negotiations could be a way for solar manufacturers to agree to reduce tariffs and resolve trade disputes, says SEMI.

In an ambitious white paper – Global Trade War and Peace: Unified Approaches to a Global Solar Energy Solution – SEMI says its experience mediating the Sino-U.S. dispute over semiconductors 20 years ago would prove invaluable.

SEMI is advocating the creation of a solar manufacturing body similar to the World Semiconductor Council (WSC), which brings together representatives from China, the EU, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the U.S. annually to set standards and resolve disputes. SEMI announced it is preparing an outline proposal for a similar organization to represent solar manufacturers.

The WSC was born out of the U.S.-Japan Semiconductor agreement signed after SEMI mediated a trade dispute brought by U.S. semiconductor businesses who claimed the Japanese government and companies were dumping products on them and restricting their access to Japanese markets.

SEMI is already in talks with various national and regional solar trade industry associations, including the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) in the U.S., and the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA), with a view to finding a united global voice for the industry.

The white paper points to last year's agreement between the leaders of Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) countries to reduce tariffs on environmental goods – including solar cells and modules – as grounds for optimism.

The Valdivostok agreement, says SEMI, could be replicated by the Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes the U.S. among its 11 member nations; by the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership of ASEAN nations, including China, India and Korea; and by the U.S.-EU trade negotiations announced by President Barack Obama last month.

The SEMI report states such regional agreements could be an important step in bringing governments in dispute – currently China, the U.S., EU, India, Japan, Canada and Korea – to the negotiating table but that a global agreement needs to be reached as none of the regional groups includes all of the parties locked in trade rows.

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