by Cory Doctorow
March 13, 2016
Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission
was on track to deliver deploy 20,000 MW of grid connected solar
power by 2022 ("more than the current solar capacity of the world's
top five solar-producing countries combined") but because India
specified that the solar panels for it were to
be domestically sourced, the USA sued it in WTO trade
court and killed it.
The USA has its own domestic solar initiatives that generally have
"buy local" rules, but those are permissible under the WTO.
The WTO court ruled that India's
buy-local rules were not, and ordered the initiative's cessation
despite its role in helping India to meet its obligations under the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP),
a secretly negotiated trade agreement, expands the sorts of powers
the WTO creates to allow multinationals to sue governments to repeal
policies that undermine their profitability.
Expect lots more of this
in the future if the TPP passes...
By putting pressure on India's solar program, and by hiding behind
the biased WTO agreements, the United States wants to boost
its solar exports to India, which it argues have fallen by 90% from
2011, when India imposed the rules.
Claiming that India was unfairly
restricting access to American suppliers, US trade representative
Michael Froman justified the perverse move in February 2014:
"These domestic content requirements
discriminate against US exports by requiring solar power
developers to use India-manufactured equipment instead of US
These unfair requirements are
against WTO rules, and we are standing up today for the rights
of American workers and businesses."