Members consider requests for panels to review US safeguard on solar cells, Indian sugar sector
At a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 22 July, WTO members considered a request from China for a dispute panel to review a US safeguard measure on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic products. Members also considered three separate requests from Brazil, Australia and Guatemala for panels to review India’s support measures for the sugar sector.
United States – Safeguard Measure on Imports of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products
China submitted its first request for a panel to review a US safeguard measure on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. China noted that the measure, which took effect in January 2018, is in the form of a tariff rate quota imposed for a period of four years, with unchanging in-quota quantities and annual reductions in the rates of duty applicable to goods entered in excess of those quantities in the second, third and fourth years. The duty rate for the first year was set at 30%.
China said the measure violates the core principles of the WTO disciplining the proper use of safeguard measures. The United States failed to provide a reasoned and adequate explanation of any of the essential conditions justifying the imposition of a safeguard, it said. This is not the first challenge against US safeguard measures, China noted, with several prior challenges resulting in the US measures being found WTO-inconsistent and Korea initiating similar proceedings against the US solar cells safeguard last year. Consultations were held on 22 October 2018 with a view to reaching a mutually satisfactory solution, China noted, but the talks failed to resolve the dispute, prompting China to submit its request for the panel.
The United States said that WTO rules allow a member to temporarily suspend concessions in order to take a safeguard action when a product is being imported into its territory in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to cause serious injury or threat of serious injury to the member’s domestic industry. The US has exercised this right with respect to crystalline silicon photovoltaic products and imposed a safeguard. The US process was open and transparent, and fully in accordance with both US domestic safeguard law and WTO obligations. In addition, China’s request for a panel improperly includes a claim not raised in its request for consultations. For these reasons, the US said, it is not in a position to agree to the establishment of a panel.
The DSB agreed to revert to the matter.