US presses India to change solar panel rules

U.S. trade officials are requesting another consultation with India over that nation’s domestic content requirements on imported solar panels. 

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Monday that India discriminates against U.S. solar cells and modules by requiring solar power developers to use Indian-manufactured equipment.  

{mosads}“Today’s action is also consistent with the Administration’s strong support for the rapid development of renewable energy around the world, including in India,” Froman told reporters.  

“Domestic content requirements detract from successful cooperation on clean energy and actually impede India’s deployment of solar energy by raising its cost.”

The move was backed by U.S. manufacturers who called it the first step in addressing other trade issues with India.

Linda Dempsey, vice president of international economic affairs for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said the move is “an important step toward leveling the playing field for solar equipment manufacturers and workers in the United States.”

“We look forward to similar concrete action to address Indian government policies that are discriminating against other products and sectors,” she said. 

The domestic content requirements by India were expanded last year to cover thin film technology, which has been exempt.

U.S. exports had hit around $120 million but have dropped off sharply since the requirements went into place, a USTR attorney told reporters. 

The Indian market is expected to increase 20 fold

A request for consultations is the first step in the World Trade Organization dispute settlement process. Under WTO rules, if the matter is not resolved through consultations within 60 days of the request, the United States may ask the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel

In February 2013, the United States requested WTO consultations with India with respect to their domestic content requirements.  The formal consultations failed to resolve U.S. concerns.  

Talks on the issue have stretched for three years over U.S. concerns about India’s solar program.

Tags India Michael Froman Michael Froman solar panels World Trade Organization

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