Washington, DC – Following U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s call for an investigation into China’s unfair green technology trade practices, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced today that China has ended the practice of providing millions of dollars in subsidies to Chinese wind turbine manufacturers, which until now, gave Chinese wind power producers an unfair upper hand. Last year, Senator Gillibrand called on the USTR to investigate these practices after the United Steelworkers (USW) filed a petition asserting that China has provided more than $200 billion in subsidies to protect Chinese producers of renewable and alternative energy products, which were in violation of their World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements.
“We must make sure that America’s renewable energy producers and manufacturers are on a level playing field with their Chinese counterparts,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am pleased that the USTR took action in forcing China to shut down its wind turbine subsidy program to protect New York jobs. New York is poised to seize tremendous economic opportunity in the renewable energy sector. However, we must ensure that American manufacturers and innovators are on a level playing field. We cannot allow other countries to corner the market through unfair and illegal trade practices.”
At Senator Gillibrand’s urging, the USTR agreed to an investigation into Chinese government subsidies and challenged the WTO’s Special Fund for Wind Power Equipment Manufacturing subsidies. Since 2008, United States estimates that China has subsidized millions of dollars for Chinese wind turbine manufacturers. China has been accused by many observers of providing export subsidies for Chinese alternative energy firms and placing export restrictions on key components and resources needed by companies around the globe to develop green technologies.
America’s trade balance has shifted from a surplus in high-tech goods during the 1990s to a deficit of over $135 billion today.
Currently, more than 70 percent of the components of clean energy systems are produced outside the U.S. China spends $51 million a day on clean energy manufacturing, using unfair subsidies and discriminatory tactics.
The USW petition, filed in September 2010, lists a number of steps China has taken a number of steps that have the effect of unfairly damaging U.S. producers of clean energy technologies— products – including wind turbines, solar panels, next generation batteries and energy efficient vehicles– 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. The petition allegations include that China is illegally blocking foreign access to green energy materials of production, providing subsidies for Chinese exports, reducing clean energy imports, and demanding foreign investors hand over trade secrets. USTR will continue to press China to address other aspects of its green technology subsidies to help provide an equal playing field for American manufacturers.