US-South Korea Solar Safeguard Case: EU, China, Malaysia & Thailand Join Consultations

If agreement is not reached by July 13, 2018, South Korea can request establishment of a panel to rule on its complaint


The United States has agreed to accept the request made by China, the European Union (EU), Malaysia, and Thailand to participate in dispute consultations between the United States and South Korea regarding the U.S. safeguard duty imposed on solar cells, a Geneva-based trade official informed Mercom.

China, the EU, Malaysia, and Thailand notified the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of their desire to be joined in the consultations requested by the Republic of South Korea, pursuant to Article 4.11 of the dispute settlement understanding (DSU).

The delegation of the United States informed the DSB that it had accepted the requests of China, the EU, Malaysia and Thailand to join the consultations.

The trade official further said, “The United States and South Korea, along with China, EU, Malaysia, and Thailand, will now sit down and discuss the complaint of South Korea regarding the safeguard duty and seek to achieve a mutually acceptable solution.  If an agreement cannot be reached within 60 days of the date Korea requested consultations on the matter (by July 13, 2018), Korea will be free to request the establishment of a panel to rule on its complaint.”

The Geneva-based trade official further explained, “Keep in mind that only South Korea can request a panel; China, the EU, Malaysia, and Thailand have asked to sit in the consultations because they have all claimed a substantial trade interest in the matter, but as they did not initiate the case, they would have to start their own dispute proceedings against the United States if they want to be a party in any further proceedings.”

Separately, Thailand has also filed a complaint with the WTO for consultations with the United States to discuss the 30 percent tariff. Thailand has said that the U.S. tariff imposition is not in line with GATT 1994 and the Safeguards Agreement.

In January 2018, the United States had set anti-dumping tariffs on imported solar cells and modules into the country at 30 percent for the first year. The tariffs will gradually decline in 5 percent increments over a four-year period to 15 percent by 2022. The first 2.5 GWs of solar cells and modules will be exempt from tariffs.

Saumy Prateek Saumy is a senior staff reporter with covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.