The United States on Wednesday accused China of illegally subsidizing the production of wind turbines and asked for talks at the WTO, the first step towards filing a trade case.
China will closely monitor the WTO’s decision on the complaint, study the requests for talks and handle it in accordance with WTO regulations, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
The action arises out of an investigation initiated by the US Trade Representative in response to a petition filed by the United Steelworkers of the US.
The union filed a petition in September, accusing China of a long list of subsidies and other policies to favor the production of domestic clean-energy technologies at the expense of the US and other countries.
China will become the largest wind power market in the world (in terms of wind farm installed capacity) by the end of this year, according to the National Energy Administration. The market is growing at 116 percent year-on-year in China, compared with 40 percent in the US, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
The annual Central Economic Conference held in Beijing earlier this month released its draft version of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for the power industry. That includes new wind farm capacity targets of 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2015, and 180 GW by 2020.
The lure of what will soon be the world’s largest wind energy market has prompted General Electric Co (GE) and Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s biggest maker of wind turbines, to invest in manufacturing in China.
Vestas has its largest integrated manufacturing complex in Tianjin and a second factory at Hohhot in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, according to the company’s website. GE formed a joint venture in China in September with Harbin Electric Machinery Co to make and supply turbines for the Chinese market.
Despite the disputes, Chinese wind turbines players are seeking their own ways to expand abroad as well. China Longyuan Power Group, Asia’s largest wind-farm developer by market value, said recently that it plans to invest 3 billion yuan ($451 million) in overseas expansion next year, with three wind projects in the US already under negotiation.
Jie Changjun, general manager of Longyuan Power Group, said the scale of the projects will range from 300 to 1,000 megawatts.