NAM: Manufacturers Welcome WTO Solar Panel Decison

By Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Economic Affairs

Manufacturers welcome today’s U.S. victory on solar energy with the WTO’s rejection of India’s appeal and urge the Indian government to move quickly to dismantle its discriminatory domestic content requirements that have blocked access for U.S. solar cell modules. As each and every previous ruling in this case has shown, India’s domestic content requirements are a clear violation of core WTO rules and today’s victory will give an important boost to U.S. manufacturing. This decision also demonstrates why the strong rules-based WTO system and trade agreements with binding and strong enforcement rules are critical to open markets and eliminate unfair barriers overseas. The NAM congratulates Ambassador Froman and the USTR for their successful efforts.

United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman announced today that the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body had rejected India’s appeal of an early dispute settlement panel that had found that localization rules under India’s national solar energy policy violated WTO international trade rules in discriminating against imported solar cells and modules. Today’s Appellate Body ruling confirms those findings and marks an important victory for U.S. manufacturers in pushing back against Indian efforts to promote local manufacturing at the expense of market access and opportunity for U.S. manufacturers.

India launched its national solar policy, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), in 2010, requiring those selling and operating solar power generators to use locally manufactured solar cells and modules to participate in key projects. These policies significantly limited the ability of U.S. solar companies to participate in important segments of the Indian market and impacted billions of dollars of U.S. exports each year. U.S. solar exports to India have declined more than 90 percent since 2011.

The NAM has worked to eliminate these restrictions since they were imposed in 2010 and appreciates the strong efforts of Ambassador Froman and the USTR to eliminate this substantial barrier. The NAM encourages India to quickly implement the WTO findings and to address other trade barriers, localization requirements and intellectual property restrictions that harm U.S. manufacturing, such as high tariffs, local content requirements and India-unique standards.

Complaints are nothing new at the WTO and today’s ruling is another example of why international trade agreements are so critical to improving the global competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States.