US Accepts China’s Invitation to Enter WTO Consultation over its Solar Safeguard Measures

China claims U.S. trade policies violate WTO rules and have harmed Chinese interests


The United States has accepted China’s request to enter consultations with regards to U.S. safeguard measures on imported solar photovoltaic products and domestic subsidies.

In its communication to the dispute settlement body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the U.S. delegation stated, “On 14 August 2018, the United States received China’s letter of the same date requesting consultations pursuant to Articles 1 and 4 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (“DSU”), Article XXII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994, and Article 14 of the Agreement on Safeguards in the dispute United States–Safeguard Measure on Imports of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products (WT/DS562/1).”

The U.S. delegation’s letter further stated, “Without prejudice to whether each of the items in China’s letter constitutes a “measure” within the meaning of Article 4 of the DSU, the U.S. accepts the request of China to enter consultations. We stand ready to confer with officials from your mission on a mutually convenient date for these consultations.”

Previously, China had requested the WTO’s DSB for consultations with regards to U.S. safeguard measures on imported solar photovoltaic products and domestic subsidies.

In another development related to the ongoing dispute, the delegation of the European Union (EU) has written to the delegation of the U.S., the delegation of China and the DSB that it wants to join in the consultations. Per the EU delegation’s letter, “The EU is a major producer and exporter of these products to the U.S. with imports into the U.S. of around $220 million per year based on the average of the last three years of the investigation period, i.e. 2014-2016. Therefore, the EU has a substantial trade interest in these consultations.”

The Thai delegation to WTO has also written to the DSB, China and U.S., requesting to join the consultations. Per the letter presented by the delegation from Thailand, “Thailand has a substantial trade interest in these consultations. The U.S. is Thailand’s largest export market for crystalline silicon photovoltaic products”.

In 2017, the U.S. imported $435.40 million of crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from Thailand, the country highlighted in its letter.

“The measures at issue identified in the request for consultations, implemented by the U.S. since February 2018, have substantially affected Thailand’s exports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic products to the U.S. In February–May 2018, Thailand’s export of these products declined from $123.18 million in 2017 to $55 million in 2018, or by a rate of 55.35%,” the letter added.

In January 2018, President Trump had announced tariffs on imported solar cells and modules at 30 percent for the first year, which would gradually decline in five percent increments over a four-year period to 15 percent by 2022.


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