FINANCE

China calls WTO ruling ‘dangerous’ in solar cell row with US


© Reuters file photo: Staff members hang out behind the Chinese and US flags displayed at the 2021 China International Fair for Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing, China. Reuters / Florence Low

GENEVA (Reuters) – China has strongly condemned a series of World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings with the United States over Washington’s move to limit imports of solar panel cells, calling them “wrong and dangerous” on Monday.

The WTO panel gave the United States a victory earlier this month, rejecting four Chinese claims and saying U.S. actions do not violate global trade rules. China said last week it would appeal the decision.

A statement issued by the Chinese delegation said that in a private meeting, the Chinese delegation “expressed deep concern over the detrimental results planned by the panel report.”

“This panel report will lead to misuse of security measures by sending false and dangerous signals to WTO members and thus severely undermining the rule-based multilateral trading system,” it said, adding that the ruling could encourage protectionism.

U.S. manufacturers have complained that imports of some crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells have increased so much that the U.S. domestic industry is at risk of serious losses.

The “protection” measures are supposed to be effective for four years, where the tariff rate will be reduced annually from the initial 30%. Tariffs have been applied to solar modules and outside a certain quota, to solar cells.

China’s appeal will have no immediate effect because there are not enough judges to work in the top WTO dispute resolution agency. This is because the administration of former US President Donald Trump stopped appointing judges to the agency and rendered its effectiveness obsolete.

The U.S. envoy told the same meeting Monday that “the United States is disappointed that China has now decided to go ahead with the panel report despite evidence of the detrimental effects of China’s non-market practices …”

(This story is corrected to remove the phrase repeated in paragraph 3)

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