India Vows to Stand Ground in New Solar Trade Fight With U.S.

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 01: Solar photovoltaic panels generate electricity at an Exelon solar power facility on September 1, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The 10-megawatt facility located on the city's south side is the largest urban solar installation in the United States. The 32,292 panels can generate more than 14,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to meet the annual energy requirements of up to 1,500 homes.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Feb. 11, 2014, 12:17 a.m.

A top In­di­an of­fi­cial is par­ry­ing new U.S. trade com­plaints about the na­tion’s sol­ar-en­ergy prac­tices, Re­u­ters re­ports. In­dia’s trade min­is­ter spoke Tues­day, a day after the U.S. an­nounced a World Trade Or­gan­iz­a­tion com­plaint against In­dia’s sol­ar-power pro­gram, al­leging it wrongly freezes out U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ers.

“In­dia will re­spond at the WTO ad­equately,” Trade Min­is­ter Anand Sharma told re­port­ers, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters. “We may also have some is­sues with them with re­gard to sol­ar. We may also have an ap­plic­a­tion or may move the WTO.”

It’s the latest trade battle over ac­cess to grow­ing re­new­able-en­ergy mar­kets. Amer­ic­an trade of­fi­cials, in Monday’s com­plaint, took aim at In­dia’s “do­mest­ic con­tent” rules for sol­ar pro­jects.

“These do­mest­ic-con­tent re­quire­ments dis­crim­in­ate against U.S. ex­ports by re­quir­ing sol­ar-power de­velopers to use In­di­an-man­u­fac­tured equip­ment in­stead of U.S. equip­ment. These un­fair re­quire­ments are against WTO rules, and we are stand­ing up today for the rights of Amer­ic­an work­ers and busi­nesses,” U.S. Trade Rep­res­ent­at­ive Mi­chael Fro­man said in an­noun­cing the com­plaint.

The new ac­tion fol­lows an earli­er com­plaint against In­dia’s sol­ar prac­tices filed in Feb­ru­ary 2013, Bloomberg notes.

The U.S. ex­por­ted $119 mil­lion worth of sol­ar-in­dustry gear to In­dia in 2011, but that sales have since de­clined due to In­dia’s loc­al con­tent re­quire­ments, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg.

The As­so­ci­ated Press has more here on the U.S.-In­dia sol­ar-trade battle.

It fol­lows a tense dis­pute between the na­tions over U.S. charges against an In­di­an dip­lo­mat, but U.S. of­fi­cials say the trade com­plaint is un­re­lated.

 “U.S. of­fi­cials say the trade case was in the works long be­fore the Decem­ber ar­rest of In­dia’s deputy con­sul gen­er­al in New York, Devy­ani Kho­bragade, who was ac­cused of visa fraud and un­der-pay­ing her maid. In a com­prom­ise, Kho­bragade was in­dicted then de­por­ted in Janu­ary, and both gov­ern­ments say they want to re­pair the re­la­tion­ship,” AP re­ports.

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