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China takes EU solar dispute to WTO

By Zheng Yangpeng, Du Juan  (China Daily)

07:51, November 06, 2012

China has made a complaint to the World Trade Organization against photovoltaic subsidies in the European Union. (Photo/

China said on Monday that it has made a complaint to the World Trade Organization against photovoltaic subsidies in the European Union, the latest move in the row between the two economies over solar products.

The case was launched when the Ministry of Commerce requested consultation with the EU and its member states concerning photovoltaic subsidies granted by Italy and Greece.

The two countries issued decrees in 2011 and 2012 that offered additional subsidies of 10 percent on electricity generated by photovoltaic installations if the main components of the installations were produced within the EU or the European Economic Area — comprising of the EU, plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The ministry said the subsidies violated WTO rules in two ways. First, they violate the "national treatment" principle, which mandates indiscriminative treatment toward imported goods. Second, they constitute prohibited subsides under WTO agreements regarding the use of domestic over imported goods.

"They have a significant effect on exports of Chinese photovoltaic products and prejudice the rights of China as a member of WTO," said ministry spokesman Shen Danyang.

Many countries subsidize solar-generated electricity to encourage their solar operators and related equipment manufacturers, but fall short of giving additional subsidies to installations that primarily use domestically manufactured components, said ministry official Yang Guohua.

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