U.S. Trade Representative Seeks Renewable-Energy Investigation

Developments in the renewable-energy industry, which has been the subject of U.S. trade actions aimed at products from China, warrant a fresh review by an independent agency, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said.

Environmental and renewable-energy services “have undergone significant change,” since the the International Trade Commission’s 2004 and 2005 reviews, Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a July 30 letter to ITC Chairman Irving Williamson.

While advancements have cut prices and increased demand for wind and solar goods, “changes in government incentive programs have created uncertainty regarding the future of the renewable-energy market,” Kirk said in the letter, posted yesterday on the ITC website.

The U.S. and China have have identified renewable energy as a strategically important industry that could provide both jobs and clean power. The Obama administration has imposed import duties on solar- and wind-energy products from China, while the Chinese responded with a World Trade Organization complaint and accused the U.S. of “abuse of trade remedy.”

Kirk has asked the ITC to conduct two investigations -- one each for the environmental and renewable-energy services markets -- to determine their size, trade barriers and key export and import markets. The renewable-energy investigation should have “particular emphasis on wind energy (onshore and offshore) and solar energy,” the letter said.

Wind, Solar

The U.S. Commerce Department on July 27 announced duties of as much as 73 percent on wind towers from China, in response to a complaint by U.S. manufacturers including Broadwind Energy Inc. of Naperville, Illinois, which said the goods were being sold in the American market below production costs,

The agency on May 17 set anti-dumping tariffs of 31 percent to 250 percent on imports of Chinese solar-energy products, after a complaint by producers including the U.S. unit of SolarWorld AG.

The department, in preliminary findings, has also set duties on clean-energy products to offset government subsidies.

China in May said that renewable-energy policies in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington state violate global trade policies. It also filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization, alleging that U.S. anti-subsidy duties undercut $7.3 billion in Chinese products including solar panels.

Kirk asked that the environmental report be ready within eight months and the renewable-energy report within 11 months.

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