US blocks India’s request for WTO compliance panel on solar dispute

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on February 09, 2018

SOLAR_PANEL   -  Reuters

Canada, EU back India; New Delhi to make a request again

Moving on expected lines, the US, on Friday, blocked India’s first-time request for the establishment of a panel to settle a dispute on whether the country complied with a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling against domestic sourcing of solar cells and modules mandated in its national solar power generation programme.

“The US continued to disagree with India’s claims of compliance and reiterated its right to use WTO procedures for retaliation while also noting it remained open to work with India for a bilateral resolution,” a Geneva-based trade official told BusinessLine.

New Delhi will seek the establishment of a compliance panel again as the WTO rules don’t allow any country to block a second request, a Commerce Ministry official said.

At the Dispute Settlement Body’s (DSB) meeting on Friday, Canada and the EU supported India’s call for a compliance panel. “While Canada said that India’s proposal was useful and appropriate given the procedural trend observed in other disputes, the EU pointed out that suspension of concessions may happen only after the WTO took a decision on compliance,” the official added.

Last month, India had called for a compliance panel to examine the matter and sort out the disagreement as it claimed that it had brought about changes in rules and procedures under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and power purchase agreements no longer mandated domestic sourcing of cells and modules.

India’s representative pointed out to the DSB on Friday that its request for a panel to investigate its compliance “has been necessitated by the US seeking suspension of concessions or other obligations”. India said the logical course of action in such a situation is to first settle the issue of compliance before going into procedures related to the US' request for retaliation.

“We are sure that we will be able to convince a compliance panel that our rules are now compliant with the Dispute Settlement Body’s ruling,” the official said.

The DSB, in 2016, had ruled in favour of a US complaint against the requirement that power producers under JNNSM should compulsory procure a part of solar panels and modules for their projects from local producers as it argued that the provision discriminated against foreign producers.

Published on February 09, 2018

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