Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urged the Obama Administration to investigate trade practices by the Chinese government intended to protect Chinese producers of green and alternative energy products – including wind turbines, solar panels, next generation batteries and energy efficient vehicles. The United Steelworkers filed a petition last week to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) asserting that China has provided more than $200 billion in subsidies and support to their local firms in violation of their World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements. Given the enormous economic potential of clean energy technology and manufacturing, Senator Gillibrand believes it is essential that the USTR investigate these practices and not allow China to grant its producers an unfair upper hand.
“Over the past decade, China is accused of providing its local firms with assistance ranging from export subsidies for Chinese alternative energy firms to export restrictions on key components and resources needed to develop green technologies,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must take appropriate steps to ensure that American’s green technology producers can compete with their Chinese counterparts. Green and alternative energy technology production are vital to our economic future and we cannot allow other countries to corner the market by unfair and illegal trade practices. I hope that the USTR will launch a thorough investigation into these practices and that the Administration upholds its responsibility to enforce our trade agreements.”
As the USW petition clearly demonstrates, China has taken a number of steps that have the effect of unfairly damaging U.S. producers of clean energy technologies in favor of their Chinese counterparts. Many of these actions appear to be violations of China’s accession agreements to the WTO and WTO membership rules.
For example, China effectively requires foreign firms seeking to engage in joint investment ventures in China to transfer technology to their domestic partners. This potentially undermines years of American investments in research into clean energy technology and makes America less competitive. Additionally, recent news reports have identified additional subsidies and benefits granted to Chinese exporters of green products, from exceptionally low interest loans to access to low-cost land in prime areas.