With the decline of domestic auto manufacturing, steelworkers in the U.S. have looked to renewable energy, particularly manufacturing wind turbines, to create new domestic jobs. However, the United Steelworkers (USW) union believes that China is using a variety of anti-competitive practices to boost their renewable energy sectors and has recently filed suit to prevent them.
In the 5,800-page submission, the USW says that China is using billions of dollars in subsidies, preferential practices and other “trade-illegal” activities in order to dominate the renewable energy sector. The USW has filed a trade case with the office of U.S. Trade Representative under Section 301 of the trade law.
USW’s submission lists five sectors of protectionist and predatory practices that China has employed to subsidize its green energy at the expense of U.S. industry. By law, the office of U.S. Trade Representative has 45 days – by October 24 – to decide whether to accept the petition for further action.
“Green jobs are key to our future,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the USW. “Right now, China is taking every possible step – many of them illegal under international trade laws – to ensure that it will control that sector. America can’t afford to cede more of its manufacturing base to China. It’s a national priority to reduce our dependence on foreign energy supplies. But if all we do is exchange our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on Chinese alternative and renewable energy production equipment, we will have traded away our nation’s energy, economic and job security.”
“As the American Wind Energy Association and USW agreed in our Partnership for Progress, the development of domestic supply chains and a robust manufacturing sector is critical to the long-term health of the wind industry,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association in response to the USW’s action.
“The US and China are competing for new investment in wind energy manufacturing and the jobs that come with growing a new sector. We are reviewing the trade case and as the representative of hundreds of manufacturers with operations in the US we are very interested in making sure these companies have a fair shot in the global market place. Any practice that tilts the global playing field unfairly would be of serious concern."
Image credit: CODEPINK: Women for Peace via Flickr
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