UPDATE 2-U.S. challenges India's solar program restrictions at WTO

Wed Feb 6, 2013 5:48pm EST
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* Restrictions seen as part of broader "local content" trend

* U.S. says WTO rules bars discrimination against foreign goods

* U.S. says negotiated settlement still possible

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday filed a challenge with the World Trade Organization over elements of India's national solar program, which it said discriminates against foreign solar products in violation of a core global trade rule.

The case comes as a number of governments, including the United States, are supporting development of clean energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global climate change.

"Let me be clear: the United States strongly supports the rapid deployment of solar energy around the world, including with India," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement announcing the request for consultations with India, which is the first step in bringing a WTO dispute.

"Unfortunately, India's discriminatory policies in its national solar program detract from that successful cooperation, raise the cost of clean energy, and undermine progress toward our shared objective," Kirk said.

The U.S. action targets India's national solar program, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.   Continued...