End of Chinese subsidy good for Ohio's clean-energy jobs

The Columbus Dispatch

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said the latest chapter of a trade dispute with China on subsidies for wind-power parts might help Ohio in its quest to become the "Silicon Valley" of clean-energy manufacturing.

Yesterday, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced that China was ending a subsidies program that encouraged wind-power manufacturers to use Chinese-made parts rather than purchasing imported parts.

The United States, in a case filed with the World Trade Organization in December, argued that the program was the equivalent of an illegal subsidy.

"Subsidies requiring the use of local content are particularly harmful and are expressly prohibited under WTO rules," Kirk said. "We challenged these subsidies so that American manufacturers can produce wind-turbine components here in the United States and sell them in China."

The U.S. case stemmed from a petition filed by the United Steelworkers in September. The United States estimated that the grants provided to Chinese companies since 2008 could have totaled several hundred million dollars. The size of the individual grants ranged between $6.7 million and $22.5million, according to Kirk's office.

More than 650 Ohio companies are involved in some way in producing parts for wind energy, according to the Ohio Department of Development.

On Oct. 1, Brown and 42 other senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama supporting the steelworkers' case. In early 2010, Brown introduced a bill preventing money from the 2009 stimulus bill from being used by foreign companies to build wind turbines and other clean-energy components outside of the United States.

Brown, a Democrat, said yesterday that he hopes China's decision to end the subsidies "is one more step towards Ohio wind-turbine manufacturers competing on a level playing field and adding good-paying jobs."

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