Is China engaging in unfair practices in regards to trade and investment in green technologies? That is what the United Steelworkers (USW) union accuses the Asian nation of, and now the U.S. Office of the United States Trade Representative, which handles U.S. trade policy recommendations to the President, is looking into these claims, filed “under Section 301 of the trade law seeking the elimination of Chinese policies and practices that adversely affect U.S. producers and their workers in the clean energy sector.”
The USW first filed a petition on Sept. 9 over this issue, stating that it believes China “employs a wide range of World Trade Organization (WTO)-inconsistent policies that protect and unfairly support its domestic producers of wind and solar energy products, advanced batteries and energy-efficient vehicles, among other products, as China seeks to become the dominant global supplier of these products.” It is said these polices include “export restraints, prohibited subsidies, discrimination against foreign companies and imported goods, technology transfer requirements, and domestic subsidies” that are believed to be causing harm to the U.S. economy, which is already reeling from a prolonged recession.
“The USW has raised issues covering a wide array of Chinese government policies affecting trade and investment in green technologies,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “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.”
The USW, for its part, was happy to see its petition accepted. It issued a statement in which it said that the goal of this petition is that “the Chinese will abandon their continuing effort to steal our jobs and ignore their commitments.” U.S. legislators reportedly have been lining up behind the USW to support this petition, with more than “185 Members of the House and 44 Senators…signing letters urging acceptance of the petition.”
China is, of course, not taking this lightly. A statement issued by its government said that the charge from the USW around the country’s clean energy policies is “groundless and irresponsible.”
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