Hereâ€™s some good news on the trade front: U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk announced today thatÂ 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 aÂ Section 301 trade complaint last October charging that Chinaâ€™s government uses hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies, performance requirements, preferential practices and other illegal trade activities to dominate theÂ 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:
Todayâ€™s news is a significant move in the right direction.Â But much more must still be done to enforce our trade laws consistently and create good jobs here at homeâ€¦Â We must work to end unfair trade practices, including currency manipulation, export subsidies and the suppression of workersâ€™ rights both here and abroad.
USW President Leo Gerard said in a statement that the unionâ€™s complaint and the Obama administrationâ€™s pursuit of the complaint brought Chinaâ€™s government to the table with a commitment to endÂ thisÂ program. He adds:
Thatâ€™s good news for our members, U.S. companies and American workers.Â It needs to be followed up with continued vigilance to ensure the Chinese keep their commitments.
Americaâ€™s workers and our nation face many more clear World Trade Organization (WTO) violations of obligations by Chinaâ€™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.
Read Kirkâ€™s announcementÂ here , Gerardâ€™s full statementÂ here and Trumkaâ€™s statementÂ here.
This article originally appeared on the AFL-CIO blog on June 7, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: James Parksâ€™ first encounter with unions was at Gannettâ€™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 Africaâ€™s first multiracial elections.