News / Economy

APEC Hopes to Address 'Green Energy' Trade Disputes

Apec senior officials gather for a group photo with Lone Peak in the background on the first day of the APEC senior officials meeting  in Big Sky, Montana, May 18, 2011
Apec senior officials gather for a group photo with Lone Peak in the background on the first day of the APEC senior officials meeting in Big Sky, Montana, May 18, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Many political leaders say manufacturing the equipment needed to tap renewable energy is a key source of good jobs. The political rush to create such jobs is sparking conflicts among major trading partners as they scramble to serve the large new market and boost jobs for their own citizens. Those tensions may be part of the discussions at trade talks by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

It will take thousands of workers to turn out the windmills, solar panels and biomass equipment needed to drastically increase the amount of energy that economies around the world get from renewable sources.

A report from the Pew Charitable Trusts says clean energy finance and investment hit nearly $200 billion in 2010 in the 20 largest economies, and the amount of such funding is soaring around the world, particularly in China.

President Barack Obama is one of many leaders who think factories that turn out clean energy equipment will help their nation use less imported oil, solve environmental problems, and cut the unemployment rate.

APEC by the Numbers

  • 21 member economies
  • 40 percent of world population
  • 55 percent of global gross domestic product
  • 43 percent of world trade


"The clean energy jobs at this plant are the jobs of the future," said the president. "Jobs that pay well, right here in America. And in the years ahead, it’s clean energy companies like this one that will keep our economy growing, create new jobs and make sure America remains the most prosperous nation in the world."

Obama made his remarks at a U.S. factory that turns out high-technology transmissions and other equipment for fuel-efficient vehicles.

His administration is pushing green technology as a source of jobs and exports, as well as a way to clean the environment.

The U.S. government, as the host this year for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, advocates cutting trade barriers for green technology. Starting Thursday, trade and business ministers from the 21 APEC nations are meeting in Big Sky, in the western U.S. state of Montana, and they are expected to take up the issue.

Already there are problems with green technology trade. The Obama administration is taking steps through the World Trade Organization to address a complaint that Beijing discriminates against foreign companies that want to sell green energy equipment in China.

A major U.S. labor union says jobs are at stake for its members because of what it calls China’s discriminatory rules.

Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute for International Economics said China supports its own manufacturers with low interest loans, requirements for government agencies to buy domestic products and in other ways.

"I think there is a pretty good chance that there will be some findings by what amounts to an international trade court that China is violating some of its global obligations," he said.

U.S. trade officials say they are holding consultations with China on what Washington says may be a prohibited subsidy under the WTO agreement.

There is a similar case brewing between two other APEC members: Japan accuses a Canadian province of treating foreign suppliers unfairly.

The premier of the Canadian province of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, said green energy companies that want favorable treatment from the government will have to use a certain percentage of locally made products.

"New domestic content laws will ensure that Ontario's highly skilled workers are front and center in the green economy," said McGuinty.

An expert in international trade law, attorney Larry Herman, said that Canada will probably argue that all potential suppliers, from any nation, will have to meet the same domestic content requirements.

He said the WTO will look at trade rules and examine practices, such as requiring domestic content, or giving local companies financial support, for evidence of illegal discrimination against foreign suppliers.

“Does it treat foreigners worse than domestic suppliers? And secondly, are these measures, aspects of these measures illegal subsidies?” asked Herman.

Herman said both of these cases are at an early stage in what may be a long and complex procedure. He said companies and government officials in many countries will be watching the WTO rulings closely for guidance on how far they can take their own efforts to push for more local jobs, and how much they can do to open potential markets to their products.

But the U.S. Trade Representative’s office hopes APEC can reduce many such problems. In a statement laying out its goals as the APEC host this year, the USTR office said APEC “will accelerate efforts” to reduce barriers in environmental goods, and will encourage efforts to expand the development of clean energy programs.

The APEC ministers responsible for trade and small and medium-sized businesses also will discuss efforts to eventually create the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. As part of that long-term goal, nine APEC nations, including the United States, Vietnam and Peru, are working on a free-trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

They hope to have the general structure of an agreement ready before the annual APEC leaders’ summit, which will be held in November in Hawaii.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.