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India becomes latest target of U.S. solar trade complaints

Posting in Energy

A trade complaint has been launched against India as the renewable energy sector dissolves in to a trade war.

The Financial Times reports that the Obama Administration is launching a new trade complaint against India.

Announced Wednesday, the new dispute is centered around solar energy products and the importation of goods and services from the United States. The issue is that India's solar policy, launched three years ago, requires developers to use cells and modules produced in India. A potential boon for local job growth, perhaps, but the United States isn't too happy about it.

Ron Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, said:

"The U.S. strongly supports the rapid deployment of solar energy around the world, including with India. Unfortunately, India's discriminatory policies in its national solar programme detract from that successful co-operation, raise the cost of clean energy, and undermine progress towards our shared objective."

Perhaps. Or perhaps the true issue is the removal of a revenue stream from the U.S., and the trade dispute is only the latest to highlight the tense relationship between the U.S. and India. It should be noted that the majority of U.S. exports to India are based around solar film technologies, which are next in line to be placed under the wing of India's energy policy.

There are elements of the policy which are meant to promote local firms rather than foreign competitors, especially as producers of solar technology products are given guaranteed purchases from the government. This may be impacting American jobs, but what about local trade?

The argument is that India's currently policies are "inconsistent" with global trade rules, and it's not the first time India has been on the receiving end of a WTO trade dispute. The Obama administration is also currently challenging India's poultry ban -- however, India has lodged a counter-suit over duties imposed on steel products important from the country.

"Unfortunately, India's policies are part of a broader trend that is putting U.S. jobs at risk, inhibiting investment, and undermining our ability to sell American goods in other countries," Dave Camp, the Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, told the publication. "America must defend our trading rights."

(via The Financial Times)

Photo Credit: babasteve

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— By on February 6, 2013, 10:04 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure