US solar industry is pushing the government to drag India to the World Trade Organization, alleging that the recent Indian regulation that certain things in solar panels be manufactured in the country is in violation of the WTO rules.
"It seems to us at SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) that that's a fairly clear violation of Indian's WTO obligations," said John P Smirnow of King and Spalding on behalf of SEAI at a teleconference. It was organised by the International Trade Administration’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee.
"We know that the US government has had a lot of high level discussions with the Indian government. And the India government -- my understanding the response has been, you know, this -- what we're doing is not a violation of the World Trade Organization obligations," he said.
"So one of the responses that the US could take in that context is to challenge that formally. And increased enforcement activities with respect to local content we think is important," Smirnow said.
Under the National Solar Mission, India requires that crystalline cells be manufactured in India.
"That's being expanded, or has been expanded to now require that the cells and modules be manufactured in India. And that effectively has blocked US or will block US crystalline cell and module manufacturers from participating in the Indian market," he alleged.
Smirnow said the first recommendation of the American solar mission is that the US increase its local content related enforcement activities, for example, formally challenge India’s local content requirements.
"One of the things I understand that the Indian government has said, we want to help grow our industry. It is basically taking a startup industry and expanding it, but doing so in a climate of severe global competition," he said.
"So how do we provide the necessary government support to help grow our local industries? What are the mechanisms we can do that? The Indian response is the local content provision is the best way to do it," Smirnow observed.