The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has rejected China’s arguments on unfair import tariffs on solar panel cells imposed by the US were unfounded, saying measures taken by the world’s top economy did not breach global trade rules.
China is the dominant producer of solar cells globally, with manufacturers in the US – the place where it was invented – shutting down or curbing output following influx of cheaper Chinese products. In 2018, US imposed import tariffs as high as 30% on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells products from China.
In that same year, China lodged complaints to the WTO, though dispute settlement panel on the matter was only established in 2019. After several delays, the multilateral trade body on Thursday (2 September) issued its findings.
Safeguard measures intact
Solar panel is among a long list of items that Beijing and Washington is at loggerheads. US argued that high import tariff on solar modules was needed as Chinese products were crippling its domestic manufacturers. China contested the claim, saying there was no causal link between the two.
The WTO panel ruling viewed there is such causality, meaning that US is well justified in imposing such measures. "I welcome the WTO panel’s findings rejecting China’s challenges to the US solar safeguard as baseless," US Trade Representative ambassador Katherine Tai said in a statement.
The current import tariffs and quota are set to expire in February 2022 and US producers have asked US International Trade Commission for an extension.