WASHINGTON (Oct. 15, 2010)—The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has opened an investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act into alleged unfair trade practices in China's “green” technology sector.
Section 301 allows the U.S. to impose trade sanctions against foreign countries that violate international trade agreements or encourage trade practices that discriminate against U.S. commerce.
The United Steelworkers sent USTR a 5,800-page petition Sept. 9, accusing China of discriminating against U.S. commerce in alternative and renewable energy products ranging from solar panels and wind turbines to advanced batteries and energy-efficient vehicles.
Among other things, the USW said, China restricted access to critical materials mined or produced within its borders; granted subsidies to domestic green technology companies contingent on export performance or domestic contest; and discriminated against imported goods and foreign firms.
“Green technology will be an engine for jobs in the future, and this administration is committed to ensuring a level playing field for American workers, businesses and green technology entrepreneurs,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “We take the USW's claims very seriously, and we are vigorously investigating them, in light of the large number of allegations and the extensive documentation accompanying them.”
USW International President Leo W. Gerard applauded the USTR decision to open the investigation. “President Obama showed again today that fighting for U.S. workers and their jobs is his top priority,” Gerard said.
In April 2009, the USW petitioned the Obama administration for relief under Section 421 of the Trade Act, claiming that Chinese passenger and light truck tire imports were hurting the domestic tire manufacturing industry and causing widespread layoffs. Five months later, President Obama approved three years' worth of tariffs against Chinese tires.