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United States Launches Section 301 Investigation into China’s Policies Affecting Trade and Investment in Green Technologies

Washington, D.C. − U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that the United States has initiated an investigation under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act with respect to acts, policies and practices of the Government of China affecting trade and investment in green technologies. The investigation has been initiated in response to a petition filed by the United Steelworkers (USW) on September 9, 2010.

The petition alleges that 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. According to the petition, these policies include export restraints, prohibited subsidies, discrimination against foreign companies and imported goods, technology transfer requirements, and domestic subsidies causing serious prejudice to U.S. interests. The petition further alleges that China’s policies have caused the annual U.S. trade deficit in green-technology goods with China to increase substantially since China joined the WTO, making China the top contributor to the U.S. global trade deficit in the sector.

“The USW has raised issues covering a wide array of Chinese government policies affecting trade and investment in green technologies. 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,” said Ambassador Kirk.

“We take the USW’s claims very seriously, and we are vigorously investigating them. In light of the large number of allegations and the extensive documentation accompanying them, I have asked my staff to utilize the 90-day period allowed by statute to thoroughly examine and verify the USW’s claims. For those allegations that are supported by sufficient evidence and that can effectively be addressed through WTO dispute settlement, we will vigorously pursue the enforcement of our rights through WTO litigation.”

The investigation will consider whether acts, policies, and practices of the Chinese government deny U.S. rights or benefits under the GATT 1994, under the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement (SCM Agreement), and under China’s Protocol of Accession to the WTO.

Under the Section 301 statute, the U.S. Trade Representative may request consultations with the foreign country concerned at the time an investigation is initiated. The statute also provides, however, that the U.S. Trade Representative, after consulting with the petitioner, may delay for up to 90 days any request for consultations for the purpose of verifying or improving the petition.

In light of the number and diversity of the acts, policies, and practices covered by the petition, and after consulting with the petitioner, the U.S. Trade Representative has decided to delay for up to 90 days the request for consultations with the Government of China for the purpose of verifying and improving the petition. During this period, the U.S. Trade Representative will seek information and advice from the petitioner and advisory committees. The U.S. Trade Representative will take account of this information and advice, as well as public comments submitted in response to a Federal Register notice, in improving and verifying the petition.

Because the issues covered in the China-Green Technology investigation involve U.S. rights under the WTO Agreement, any consultation request will be made under the WTO Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU), and unless consultations result in a mutually acceptable resolution, the U.S. Trade Representative will request the establishment of a WTO panel under the DSU.