The Obama administration is engaged in preliminary talks with the European Union and China to settle a dispute over trade in solar-energy equipment and avoid a conflict among the world’s largest economies, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The effort is focused on setting a quota on Chinese exports and a minimum price for solar-energy equipment, in exchange for suspending U.S. duties on the goods, according to two people familiar with the U.S. position who asked not to be identified to discuss private deliberations.
“After expressing our intentions to the White House, we are very encouraged that these long-needed negotiations appear ready to proceed,” said John Smirnow, vice president of trade and competitiveness for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “It’s time for everyone to work together toward a fair resolution of these cases.”
Representatives from the Washington-based solar group and the Singapore-based Asia Photovoltaic Industry Association met last week in China to discuss the trade disputes, Smirnow said. A policy resolution by the groups urged the U.S., China, EU and other nations to enter multilateral talks to quell rifts over solar-energy goods, he said yesterday in a statement.
Tensions over China’s policies flared in recent months and each of the partners has either imposed or is considering duties to limit imports of solar-energy goods. Government support for renewable-energy products including solar panels has led to disputes as the price of polysilicon, the main ingredient in solar cells, has dropped 64 percent since December 2010.