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Solar trade row: US takes India to WTO

world Updated: Feb 07, 2013 01:53 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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The US on Wednesday announced it’s taking India to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) alleging discrimination against US solar equipment producers.

“India’s discriminatory policies in its national solar program detract from ... successful cooperation, raise the cost of clean energy,” said US trade representative in a statement.

The USTR said India “appears to discriminate” against US producers by insisting Indian solar energy producers buy supplies only from Indian producers, who it then subsidises. This makes Indian products cheaper than the imports.

All government procurement of solar equipment is mandated by the National Solar Energy Mission to be made locally, from local producers, which can be joint ventures.

Indian officials believe India is well within its rights to insist on local production of equipment government wants to purchase — for its own use — and that is covered by WTO rules.

“We have nothing to worry about,” said an Indian official in Delhi, adding, “they — the US — have a view on this and we have a view on this and we are right.”

Private solar energy producers in India, however, are free to buy equipment — cells and modules — from anyone and anywhere in the world. They are not bound by the same clause.