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Incentive programs for solar and other forms of renewable energy in five U.S. states violate international free-trade rules and treaties, according to China's Ministry of Commerce. Bloomberg reports that the ministry has ruled that renewable energy incentive programs in California, New Jersey and other states break World Trade Organization rules.

In addition, 14 China-based PV manufacturers have formed a new coalition in response to the U.S. Department of Commerce's (DOC) announcement last week that tariffs would be applied to solar modules exported from China to the U.S.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), released a statement calling for international dialogue and reiterating his previous warning that trade conflicts can hurt the global solar sector.

"While trade remedy proceedings - such as those being pursued by both the U.S. and Chinese governments - are legitimate, essential principles of a rules-based global trading system, so too are collaboration and negotiation," Resch said. "Now is the time for the U.S. and China to come together in a collaborative dialogue - not through the lens of any one particular trade dispute, but in a broader context."

SEIA and the China Renewable Energy Industries Association have requested that the U.S. and Chinese governments engage the 21 member countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in a formal clean energy dialogue on trade. According to SEIA, this conversation would provide an "excellent framework" for a much larger, global agreement on acceptable solar energy policy.

"In the long run, continually escalating trade disputes in the solar industry will shut down markets around the world," Resch predicted. "Companies from all nations will be the ultimate losers. Exporters will find fewer and fewer destinations for their products.

"Large project developers and local installers will find it more and more difficult to source products," he continued. "And consumers will see solar energy as a less-competitive source of electricity."

SEIA's calls for international dialogue have not been universally accepted by solar manufacturers. SolarWorld, which led the initial trade complaint against China that resulted in the DOC's tariffs, has accused SEIA of breaking its stated pledge of neutrality in the case.




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