A WTO dispute settlement panel has rejected China’s challenges to the US safeguard tariffs on solar products, Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said on Thursday (local time).

A USTR statement said that this is the first successful defense of the US – Safeguard Measure on Imports of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products.

“I welcome the WTO panel’s findings rejecting China’s challenges to the US solar safeguard as baseless,” said US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

In early 2018, the US imposed the solar safeguard measure to support the domestic solar industry’s efforts to adjust to import competition primarily attributable to excess solar cell and module capacity by Chinese producers in China and around the world and exacerbated by China’s non-market practices.

According to the statement, the safeguard was established after the US International Trade Commission (USITC) found that the domestic solar industry was being seriously injured by increased imports.

The safeguard imposes a tariff-rate quota on imports of cells and a tariff on modules over a four-year period currently set to expire on February 6, 2022. Domestic producers have asked the USITC to review a safeguard extension. That review is ongoing.

In July 2019, China requested the establishment of a WTO panel alleging that the US imposition of the safeguard was inconsistent with various obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and the WTO Agreement on Safeguards. The Panel rejected all of China’s claims.

Specifically, the WTO Panel found that the US established that solar imports had increased as a result of unforeseen developments, established a causal link between increased imports and serious injury to the domestic industry, and appropriately considered other factors besides increased imports that were allegedly causing injury to the domestic industry.