USTR drags India to WTO over restrictions on US solar exports

Washington: The US has dragged India to World Trade Organisation (WTO) challenging New Delhi's restrictions on US solar exports, in particular those provisions concerning domestic content requirements in India's national solar programme.
The US Trade Representative (USTR) in a statement alleged that India's programme appears to discriminate against US solar equipment by requiring solar energy producers to use Indian-manufactured solar cells and modules and by offering subsidies to those developers for using domestic equipment, instead of imports.
These forced localisation requirements of India's national solar programme restrict India's market to US imports, USTR said, adding that tackling these barriers is a top priority of the Obama Administration.
"Let me be clear: the United States strongly supports the rapid deployment of solar energy around the world, including with India. Unfortunately, India's discriminatory policies in its national solar program detract from that successful cooperation, raise the cost of clean energy, and undermine progress toward our shared objective," the US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.
Kirk said USTR has requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with India concerning domestic content requirements in India's national solar programme.
On January 11, 2010, India launched its national solar policy, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).
Phase I of that national policy is composed of two parts: Batch 1 and Batch 2. Under Batch 1, India required developers of solar photo voltaic (PV) projects employing crystalline silicon technology to use solar modules manufactured in India.
Under Batch 2, India expanded this domestic sourcing requirement to crystalline silicon solar cells as well.
In its draft policy for Phase II of the JNNSM, India has stated that it is considering expanding the scope of the domestic content requirements further to include solar thin film technologies, which currently comprise the majority of US solar exports to India.