USTR launches probe of China’s green trade practices

The United Steelworkers (USW) filed a petition with USTR last month alleging China is freezing foreign suppliers out of its renewable-power generation projects, while using quotas and other restrictions to block export of raw materials vital to production of solar panels, wind turbines and advanced batteries, among other allegations.

“The USW has raised issues covering a wide array of Chinese government policies affecting trade and investment in green technologies. This is a vitally important sector for the United States. Green technology will be an engine for the jobs of the future, and this Administration is committed to ensuring a level playing field for American workers, businesses and green technology entrepreneurs,” said United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk in a statement Friday.

He said USTR would probe the allegations for up to 90 days.

“For those allegations that are supported by sufficient evidence and that can effectively be addressed through WTO dispute settlement, we will vigorously pursue the enforcement of our rights through WTO litigation,” Kirk said. 

Kirk's action drew cheers from the USW and the AFL-CIO.

"This decision is significant for millions of working people who are watching their jobs disappear because of an uneven playing field with China,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement Friday. “Led by USW, the labor movement is committed to addressing and eliminating Chinese government policies that undermine America’s working families.”

“Whether in tire manufacturing, currency manipulation or the clean energy sector, the Chinese government cannot continue to violate international norms with respect to subsidies, investment, worker rights and trade policy — at the expense of American workers and producers,” he added.

Several senators, including Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump surprises with consumer agency pick On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump nominates budget official Kraninger for consumer chief | Senate votes to block Trump ZTE deal | Stocks fall on trade tensions | House panel moves to markup budget Dems must stop picking foxes to guard the financial hen house MORE (D-Ohio) and Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe Congress dangerously wields its oversight power in Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate MORE (D-Mich.), had urged the White House to accept the USW petition.