Japan challenges Canada at WTO over green energy programme

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Japan has launched a challenge against Canada at the World Trade Organization over a renewable energy programme in the province of Ontario which Tokyo says discriminates against foreign products.

"Japan made this request for the establishment of a panel on June 1, 2011" to deliver a ruling on the issue, Japan told a WTO meeting on Friday.

"This is a clear case of domestic content requirements which are explicitly condemned in several provisions in the WTO agreement as an origin-based discrimination," it added.

At the heart of the dispute is a programme introduced by Ontario in May which provides guaranteed, long-term pricing for energy generated from renewable resources.

However, the programme requires wind projects greater than 10 kilowatts and all solar projects to include a minimum amount of goods and services that originate from Ontario.

"Thus under these measures, technologically advanced and highly competitive and sophisticated solar panels or other renewable energy generation equipment produced in Japan are discriminated against in the market of the Canadian province of Ontario simply because of their origin," Japan charged.

Canada said that it has held consultations with Japan on the issue and "despite Canada's work with Ontario to find a solution to Japan's concerns, consultations have not yet concluded successfully."

It blocked the establishment of the panel and said it was "confident that this legislation and the feed-in-tariff programme are consistent with Canada's obligations under the WTO."

Under WTO procedures, the first request for a panel can be refused by the targetted country. On a second request, however, a team of arbitrators would be automatically set up.

© 2011 AFP

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