US to Probe China's Green-Tech Trade Policies

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Agence France Presse

US to Probe China's Green-Tech Trade Policies

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Spinning wind turbines are pictured behind part of the Great Wall of China from the border of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Shanxi province October 11, 2010. (Credit: Reuters/Joel Boh)

WASHINGTON — US authorities on Friday announced a probe into
allegations that China is handing out hundreds of billions of dollars in
illegal subsidies in a bid to dominate the green-energy sector.

"This
administration is committed to ensuring a level playing field for
American workers, businesses and green technology entrepreneurs," US
Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement announcing the
investigation.

The probe comes after the United Steelworkers union
petitioned the trade officials to investigate practices it claims
contravene World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and cost American jobs.

The
union -- one of the nation's largest -- accused China of blocking
access to materials used in green technologies, illegally linking
subsidies to export sales, curbing imports and demanding foreign
investors hand over technology secrets.

It also accused China of
providing more than 216 billion dollars' worth of subsidies to green
technology makers -- "more than twice as much as the US spent in the
sector and nearly half of the total 'green' stimulus spent worldwide,"
according to a September plea filed by the union.

Responding, Kirk vowed to tackle all of the complaints in detail.

"We take the USW's claims very seriously, and we are vigorously investigating them," he said.

"In
light of the large number of allegations and the extensive
documentation accompanying them, I have asked my staff to utilize the
90-day period allowed by statute to thoroughly examine and verify the
USW's claims."

If the probe finds that China did provide illegal
subsidies, the US can take its case to the WTO, where China could face
sanctions.

The United Steelworkers claims had received strong
backing from members of Congress as they near mid-term elections early
next month.

"There is no question that China is ignoring trade
rules so it can cheat its way to first place in the clean-energy
manufacturing race," said New York Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat.

"This
is just the latest example of China's unfair trade practices, but it is
one of the most damaging for US manufacturers. We will never meet our
goal of increasing exports if we let China get away with this."

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