China files WTO complaint over EU solar subsidies

Updated: 2012-11-05 20:02


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BEIJING - China on Monday filed a complaint to the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) accusing some European Union (EU) member states of violating solar subsidies rules.

Subsidies issued by some EU member states have violated WTO rules and seriously damaged China's photovoltaic exports, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement, requesting for a consultation.

According to laws of Italy and Greece, electricity generated by photovoltaic solar installations is eligible for a specified amount or proportion of feed-in tariffs, if main components of the facilities are produced in the EU or the European Economic Area.

"China considers that the measures are inconsistent with the WTO rules on national treatment and most-favored-nation treatment, and constitute import substitution subsidies that are banned by the WTO," the statement said.

The measures have also seriously damaged China's photovoltaic exports and the country's legitimate rights as a WTO member, it said.

It is in the interests of all countries to develop renewable energy resources such as solar power, but they should be open to international trade and strengthen industrial cooperation rather than take protectionist measures because of short-term benefits, it said.

"China resolutely opposes all forms of trade protectionism and will firmly exercise its rights as a WTO member to protect its legitimate rights and interests," the statement added.

Yang Guohua, deputy head of the ministry's treaty and laws department, said that most EU countries subsidize renewable energy generation, but only Italy and Greece provided extra subsidies on projects using EU-produced solar facilities, which has given an edge to EU producers.

In 2010, China exported $4.8 billion in solar cells and modules to Italy. The figure dropped to $3.88 billion in 2011 and $760 million in the first nine months of the year after Italy adopted the measure in 2011, Yang said.