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Clean energy probe equals 'protectionism'

By Ding Qingfen | China Daily | Updated: 2010-10-20 08:20

BEIJING - Chinese industrial companies and associations are strongly opposed to the announcement by the United States to probe China's clean energy sector, claiming that the move is typical "trade protectionism" and any duties on Chinese imports will harm US businesses and consumers.

At the request of the United Steelworkers Union, the US government said last Friday that it will investigate whether China has subsidized its clean energy sector and whether relevant policies have violated the rules and regulations of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"China's clean energy policies are in line with WTO rules and the US move is nothing but pure trade protectionist measures. We are strongly against it," said Yao Wenping, vice-president of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, an organization that represents China's clean energy companies.

US companies and consumers will eventually incur huge losses if Chinese enterprises and exporters are charged duties, she added.

The investigation comes as the US has been pressurizing China to allow its currency to rise, while the US unemployment rate remains high and the US mid-term elections draw nearer.

The US aims to shift its own domestic and economic problems to China through these moves, analysts said.

It is "irresponsible of the US to investigate the Chinese industry while the nation itself has been subsidizing its own green sector," Yao said.

US authorities will take measures to create more than 800,000 jobs for the clean energy industry by 2012, the Obama administration said.

The US investigation concerns more than 150 Chinese companies from the wind energy, solar energy, high-efficient battery and new-energy auto sectors, whose exports to the US hit $500 million in 2009.

The investigation is expected to be completed in three months, during which the two sides will hold consultations.

"We are surprised that it (announcement) has come so suddenly. The US appeal makes no sense and seems ridiculous, as we have never received any sort of subsidy from the government," said He Weining, marketing director of Poly Solar.

The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website that "the US government's decision to launch a probe into the issue is sending a wrong signal of trade protectionism to the rest of the world".

China exported clean energy products worth $10 billion last year, less than 5 percent of which was to the US, with the majority of the exports being processing trade. That means that most products for export to the US were made from materials imported from the US itself.

"The US will hurt their own interests if they make any charges," Yao said.

As many more clean energy firms get listed and set up operations in the US, the investigation will also negatively affect US jobs and consumers, she added.

China Daily

(China Daily 10/20/2010 page15)

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