China's Ministry of Commerce filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the U.S.' application of tariffs on photovoltaic imports from China and for renewable energy subsidies, the ministry announced on Tuesday.
In a statement posted on the ministry’s website, a spokesperson said the U.S.' adoption in January of safeguard measures for imported PV products, with a maximum tariff of 30 percent, was an "act of abuse", and a "suspected violation of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards".
The move "not only harms the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese side, but also undermines the seriousness and authority of the WTO rules," the statement said.
The spokesperson noted that while implementing safeguard measures against imported PV products, the U.S. was providing additional subsidies for renewable energy products, such as photovoltaics manufactured in the country, "which are suspected of forming import substitution subsidies and violating national treatment obligations".
National treatment is a principle of the WTO that requires imports be treated no less favorably than the same or similar domestically-produced goods once they have passed customs.
"The U.S. subsidy policy has given the country's renewable energy industry an unfair competitive advantage and damaged the legitimate rights and interests of China's renewable energy companies," the spokesperson said.
The official added that these "violations by the U.S. have seriously distorted the international market for products such as photovoltaics and seriously damaged China's trade interests".
The Chinese have resorted to the dispute resolution mechanism out of necessity to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests and maintain multilateral trade rules, the spokesperson said, and urged the U.S. "to take concrete action, respect the rules of the WTO, and abandon the wrong practices so the relevant trade can be restored to normal".
The Trump administration on Jan. 22 placed a 30 percent tariff on solar imports to the U.S. including both solar cells, and solar modules, citing “unfair trade practices” by Chinese solar companies, which it said, offered "artificially low-priced solar cells and modules to dominate the global supply chain," thanks to state incentives and subsidies from the Chinese government.
These practices are "a substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic industry," according to the bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission, the recommendations of which were approved by Trump to provide relief to U.S. manufacturers and impose safeguard tariffs on imported solar cells and modules.
By Hale Turkes