China to file WTO complaint against US duties

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China’s Ministry of Commerce intends to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the 30% import tariffs imposed by the U.S. on Chinese solar products, according to a Chinese government spokesman on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, however, no official complaint document from China had been published on the WTO website.

The protection measures imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump at the beginning of the year do not comply with international WTO rules, the Chinese government asserted. The duties are also harming the interests of the Chinese economy, said the spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing.

In addition to protective measures against imported PV products, China claims the U.S. has provided support for the domestic production of components for renewable energies and PV. The country’s economy has thus gained an “unfair competitive advantage and damaged the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese renewable energy companies,” the spokesman said.

With the introduction of tariffs, the U.S. has “heavily distorted” the international PV market and “seriously damaged” China’s trade interests, they said. Therefore, the country now wants to reach a dispute settlement at the WTO. China called on the U.S. to take concrete action to reinstate WTO rules, the Ministry of Commerce spokesman said.

At the end of January, the U.S. decided to impose tariffs on nearly all imported PV modules and solar cells. This was preceded by a Section 201 petition from Suniva, which Solarworld Americas subsequently joined. The U.S. wants to gradually reduce its import tariffs to 15% over the next four years. Exceptions apply to some countries, and the U.S. has an annual quota for goods that may be imported without customs duties.

Since then, the trade conflict has deepened, particularly between the U.S. and China. For example, Trump has announced further tariffs for PV products, including inverters.