WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United Steelworkers today filed a petition accusing China of violating World Trade Organization rules by subsidizing exports of clean energy equipment. In response to the filing, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement:
"Next week will be the tenth anniversary of Congress passing Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, paving the way for China's membership in the World Trade Organization. Back then, advocates in both parties said WTO membership would ensure China played by the rules. If only that were the case. Since receiving PNTR status and the benefits of WTO membership, China has fought off fair competition while building market share on wind and solar products and technologies.
"There is nothing normal or fair about the way China trades. If we are going to compete in the global clean energy manufacturing industry, we need strong trade enforcement. Every day we delay enforcing trade rules, China spends $51 million a day to speed past us in the race to lead the world in clean energy manufacturing, while elbowing competition out of the way through unfair subsidies and discriminatory tactics.
"I applaud the United Steelworkers for filing this petition, and urge the Administration to work without delay alongside workers and businesses to challenge China's trade practices at the WTO. Clean energy represents the future of manufacturing. Acting now means that we won't displace America's dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on Chinese-made clean energy technology."
On June 9, 2010, Brown called for the Obama Administration to launch a "Section 301" case against China's policies that limit market access to U.S. companies in the clean energy sector.
Brown is the author of the Trade Enforcement Priorities Act, which requires the Administration to take action against the most egregious mercantilist trade practices identified in the annual National Trade Estimates report.
Brown has been working to promote the competitiveness of the American clean energy industry. In August, Brown praised an agreement between the United Steelworkers (USW) and two of China's leading power generation companies that will enable production of clean energy components in the United States. Following reports that a West Texas wind farm receiving $450 million in Recovery Act funding would purchase wind turbine components made in China, Brown called for strong domestic sourcing requirements. He also joined his colleagues to introduce the American Renewable Energy Jobs Act, legislation which would ensure that grant money distributed through the "1603" wind energy program is given only to clean energy projects that preserve and create jobs in the United States.
In June, USW and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced a new partnership to make the U.S. a leader in wind energy. The two groups released a framework agreement creating a "Partnership for Progress" to accelerate the development and deployment of wind energy manufacturing in the U.S. The partnership followed intervention from Brown and his calls for domestic sourcing for the clean energy supply chain.
More than 70 percent of the components of clean energy systems are produced outside the U.S. Brown is fighting to bolster domestic production of clean energy components and to make Ohio the Silicon Valley of Clean Energy Manufacturing. In May, Sen. Brown introduced legislation that would expand and improve the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (48C) program. The Security in Energy and Manufacturing (SEAM) Act would extend the program and allow for grants in lieu of tax credits. This would enable the program to reach additional companies that would otherwise be unable to utilize the program - new companies that do not yet have tax liabilities or companies that struggle to find credit in today's tight financial market. The SEAM Act also adjusts the selection criteria to give higher priority to facilities that manufacture - rather than assemble - goods and components in the U.S.
Brown is the author of the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act of 2009, legislation incorporated in the House-passed clean energy bill that would create a $30 billion revolving loan program to help auto suppliers and other small and mid-sized manufacturers retool for the clean energy industry. Brown's bill would also expand the focus of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to include support for manufacturers transitioning to the clean energy economy. A report released in February estimates that Brown's IMPACT Act could create more than 52,000 jobs in Ohio.
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