India beats US in WTO renewables case

Solar panels sit on the roof of SunPower Corporation in Richmond, California March 18, 2010. — Reuters pic
Solar panels sit on the roof of SunPower Corporation in Richmond, California March 18, 2010. — Reuters pic

GENEVA, June 27 — World Trade Organisation judges sided with India today in a dispute against the United States over subsidies provided to American renewable energy companies. 

In a complaint filed at the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body in 2016, India argued that the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and Washington offered unfair benefits to American producers.

DSB arbitrators agreed with India that the subsidies, which include tax breaks and other incentives, unfairly discriminate against foreign companies. 

The US can appeal the DSB decision, but that path has been complicated by the polices of President Donald Trump, whose administration has brought the DSB to the brink of a shutdown.

The DSB appellate division, sometimes called the supreme court of world trade, is in crisis due to Washington’s refusal to approve any new judges.

The Trump administration has accused WTO judges of overstepping their authority by issuing broad rulings it says violate national sovereignty.  

The WTO now faces a December deadline when, due to mandatory retirements, the appellate body will not have enough judges to hear cases.

If the US decides to appeal against India, there is no way a ruling can be delivered before December, which could cast the case into a prolonged period of legal limbo. — AFP

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