India Asks WTO to Confirm Its Compliance in U.S. Solar Dispute

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By Bryce Baschuk

India asked the World Trade Organization on Jan. 30 to determine whether New Delhi’s domestic solar policy complies with international trade rules.

The WTO has twice ruled that India’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission program imposed domestic sourcing requirements that unfairly discriminate against imported solar cells and modules.

The WTO will consider India’s compliance request when it convenes on Feb. 9 for a special meeting of the dispute settlement body in Geneva.

If India is found to comply with WTO rules, it could increase market opportunities for U.S. manufacturers such as SunPower Corp., First Solar Inc., and Evergreen Solar Inc.

U.S. trade officials previously claimed that India’s domestic sourcing requirements precipitated a 90 percent decline in U.S. solar imports to India.

WTO Arbitration Ongoing

The development marks the latest chapter in a lengthy and contentious WTO dispute that the U.S. launched to dissuade other countries from pursuing discriminatory localization policies.

Last month, the U.S. alleged that India had not brought its measures into conformity with WTO rules and asked the WTO to permit the U.S. to retaliate.

India said Jan. 9 that it complied with the WTO ruling and removed the requirement to procure solar cells, panels, and modules from local producers in the Nehru power project.

India subsequently objected to the level of retaliation on Jan. 12 that the U.S. requested, which automatically triggered arbitration to be carried out by the dispute panelists that evaluated the original ruling.

The U.S. cannot retaliate during the arbitration period, which is scheduled to conclude in March.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at correspondents@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at jashton@bloomberglaw.com

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