WTO Rejects China's Claims on Safeguard Measures Imposed by the U.S. on Solar Imports

A special panel constituted to look into the dispute between China and the United States regarding safeguard measures imposed by the United States on importing certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells (CSPV) rejected China’s claims.

The panel made no recommendation to the dispute settlement board (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO had constituted the panel on October 24, 2019.

The panel said that China could not establish that the United States’ safeguard measures on CPSV products failed to comply with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994.

The panel further stated that China failed to prove that the United States had acted inconsistently with the agreement’s provisions on safeguard rules by failing to demonstrate the required ‘causal link’ between the increased imports and the serious injury to the domestic market.


The panel, in its findings, also noted that China could not prove that the United States acted inconsistently regarding safeguard provisions as a result of the procedural and substantive treatment of confidential information during the investigation.

Background

China had claimed that the safeguard measure on CSPV products was inconsistent with GATT 1994 and the agreement on safeguard measures between the two countries.

In August 2018, the United States had accepted China’s request to enter consultations regarding the United States’ safeguard measures on imported solar photovoltaic products and domestic subsidies. Previously, China had requested the WTO’s dispute settlement body for consultations with regards to U.S. safeguard measures.

China’s had challenged the different aspects of the provisions published by the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) that resulted in the imposition of the safeguard measures.’

Specifically, China had challenged the USITC’s findings concerning ‘unforeseen developments’ and the link between increased imports and the injury to the domestic industry and other factors causing harm to the domestic industry simultaneously with increased imports.

In November last year, the United States of International Trade repealed the extension of imported bifacial solar panels from the imposition of safeguard duty. The court addressed the issues regarding the withdrawal of exclusion of imported bifacial solar modules from safeguard duty, which Trump had imposed to protect the domestic solar industry.