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U.S. Files Second WTO Case Against India on Solar Cell Discrimination

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman announced Feb. 10 that the U.S. has requested World Trade Organization dispute settlement consultations with India concerning measures that allegedly discriminate against U.S. and other imported solar power equipment. Froman said the U.S. filed the WTO case “in support of the rapid global deployment of renewable energy,” noting that “these types of ‘localization’ measures not only are an unfair barrier to U.S. exports, but also raise the cost of solar energy, hindering deployment of solar energy around the world.”

According to a USTR press release, the domestic content requirements in Phase II of India’s National Solar Mission require participating solar power developers to use Indian-manufactured solar cells and modules. Phase I of the NSM also included these requirements, and the U.S. filed a WTO case against them in February 2013. Moreover, USTR states, India has now extended these domestic content requirements to thin film technology, which currently comprises the majority of U.S. solar product exports to India and was exempt from the requirements under Phase I. The press release notes that the U.S. has raised its concern about these requirements with India on numerous occasions, including the WTO consultations on Phase I as well as meetings of the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum and the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue.

A request for consultations is the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process. If talks do not resolve the matter within 60 days, the U.S. may ask the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel.

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