In Boost to US, WTO Rules Against China On Solar Tariffs Dispute

Highlights :

  • The WTO rebuff will be a setback to China, but was predictable.
  • Focus in many large markets has shifted to domestic manufacturing, now that solar has ‘strategic’ role in energy plans.
In Boost to US, WTO Rules Against China On Solar Tariffs Dispute

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday ruled in favor of the United States in a dispute with China over tariffs on solar panels that were imposed by the previous American administration on imports from China.

The tariffs had been slapped on in January 2018 by the Trump administration, setting off a chain of events that continues to play out to this day. Primarily in the form of a massive US push to recover lost manufacturing ground. However, the tariffs have never quite been the welcome by large sections of US solar industry members, owing mainly to the fear of  rise in solar costs.

China had made a request at the WTO set up a dispute panel to judge whether the tariffs violated international trade rules, and in its decision, the body said it “rejected all of China’s claims.”

With the tariffs and other barriers only spreading further, it remains to be seen how China handles this. What has actually happened so far is that China based manufacturers supplying key raw materials, citing multiple issues, have hiked prices of key inputs significantly in 2021. While some countries have called this profiteering, others have pointed to the real issues caused by Covid disruptions and other natural disasters like floods in support.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that with the major increase seen for Solar in the energy transition, many key markets no longer wish to have the kind of dependence on Chinese imports that they were only too happy with, right through 2015-2020.

At the time of filing, we have no information on China’s plans following thus rebuff at the WTO. An appeal seems likely.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International