Keith Bradsher reports:
The United Steelworkers union plans to file a legal case with the Obama administration on Thursday, accusing China of violating World Trade Organization rules by subsidizing exports of clean energy equipment, the union’s president and his advisers said. The filing, more than 5,000 pages long and 18 inches thick, contends that the central government in Beijing and China’s provincial governments have used land grants, low-interest loans and dozens of other measures that violate W.T.O. rules.
The existence of the World Trade Organization means that these kind of disputes invariably turn legalistic and also that export subsidies tend to get very hidden. But suppose China were doing something clearly illegal. Suppose, in other words, that politically powerful Chinese wind turbine manufacturers persuaded the government of China to increase taxes on Chinese people and to redirect the funds into offering a 10% rebate check to buyers of Chinese-made wind turbines. Definitely against WTO rules. Definitely bad for the Steelworkers’ Union. Bad for the average American? Bad for the environment? Bad for the average Chinese person? My take is that Chinese export subsidies are a bad thing for overall human welfare but probably for something closer to the reverse reason the Steelworkers would give.