Wednesday, March 6, 2013

“Global Trade War and Peace”— SEMI calls for constructive action on solar dispute

USA: SEMI announced the release of “Global Trade War and Peace: Unified Approaches to a Global Solar Energy Solution,” a white paper containing recommendations to move beyond trade litigation and encourage an accelerated path towards dispute resolution.

The report is authored by SEMI and the SEMI PV Public Policy Sub-committee, which is comprised of representatives from leading solar companies with global manufacturing operations.

The report recommends the following approach:

* Support and promote existing efforts to unify national/regional renewable and solar trade associations and strengthen the voice of the global industry. Industry leadership will be essential if the solar market is to advance beyond the current protectionist impasse.

* Encourage the governments of the United States, China, Europe, India, and elsewhere to initiate a dialogue that transcends short-term enforcement actions and supports clean technologies. SEMI can play a critical role in this advocacy effort, given its experience from the semiconductor disputes of the 1990s.

* SEMI will develop an outline proposal for creating an entity similar to the World Semiconductor Council (WSC), as well as a draft implementation plan.

William Morin, senior director of government affairs at Applied Materials and one of the white paper’s lead authors stated, “The solar energy sector is a $100-billion-plus and growing global business characterized by fierce international competition.  So it was probably inevitable that trade conflicts would arise.

What should not be inevitable, however, is that these tensions continue to define the global solar landscape. The current path ultimately means the industry, consumers and the environment all lose.  With leadership and long-term vision, we can turn this around.”

“An end to global conflict within the PV market is both advantageous and conceivable, and there are a variety of approaches that merit consideration in achieving an industry-driven solution, from the World Semiconductor Council’s model, to broad sectoral agreements in ICT and ’green goods,’ to regional pacts with 21st century standards,” said Bettina Weiss, VP for business development at SEMI.

According to the SEMI white paper, multiple avenues for amelioration can be examined including:

* US-Japan Semiconductor Trade Agreement: Born out of the semiconductor dispute, the creation of the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) produced an elevated dialogue and a pathway forward for the semiconductor industry. Far beyond the scope of the initial U.S.-Japan agreement, this government-industry body was created to promote the semiconductor industry in a global way and to use trade as more than simply a tool for litigation.

* Information Technology Agreement (ITA): Initially crafted in 1996, the ITA is a broad sectorial agreement that has allowed an annual increase of more than 10 percent for all ICT products it covers. There are currently 74 ITA participants accounting for about 97 percent of global trade in ICT products and this model is viewed as the standard bearer for plurilateral engagement.

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