Here’s some good news on the trade front: U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk announced today that China has ended certain wind power equipment subsidies that gave its companies an unfair advantage in the global market.
The action came after the United Steelworkers (USW) filed a Section 301 trade complaint last October charging that China’s government uses hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies, performance requirements, preferential practices and other illegal trade activities to dominate the renewable energy market.
The subsidies take the form of grants to Chinese wind turbine manufacturers that agreed to use key parts and components made in China rather than purchasing imports. The size of the individual grants range between $6.7 million and $22.5 million, according to the USTR.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:
Today’s news is a significant move in the right direction. But much more must still be done to enforce our trade laws consistently and create good jobs here at home… We must work to end unfair trade practices, including currency manipulation, export subsidies and the suppression of workers’ rights both here and abroad.
USW President Leo Gerard said in a statement that the union’s complaint and the Obama administration’s pursuit of the complaint brought China’s government to the table with a commitment to end this program. He adds:
That’s good news for our members, U.S. companies and American workers. It needs to be followed up with continued vigilance to ensure the Chinese keep their commitments.
America’s workers and our nation face many more clear World Trade Organization (WTO) violations of obligations by China’s government, Gerard said.
With this first green technology issue behind us, we encourage the administration to continue to work to level the playing field for clean technology companies and American workers to grow sustained employment and good job opportunities.
This article originally appeared on the AFL-CIO blog on June 7, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: James Parks’ first encounter with unions was at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when his colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. He saw firsthand how companies pull out all the stops to prevent workers from forming a union. He is a journalist by trade, and worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. He also has been a seminary student, drug counselor, community organizer, event planner, adjunct college professor and county bureaucrat. His proudest career moment, though, was when he served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections.