Saturday, November 10, 2012

Local content, renewable energy and the WTO

The FiT ruling in the WTO case (DS 412) of Canada's (more specifically Ontario's) renewable energy program is eagerly awaited. I had blogged about a preliminary report of the WTO Panel here. It will surely be appealed against. What implication does the prohibition of "local content" requirements in renewable energy programs have on programs around the world?

A well written piece on the history and implications of a WTO ruling is found here.

Many questions:

1. What is the implication for countries following "local content' requirements in their FiT or renewable energy programs? Will domestic policy require a thorough revamp?

2. Is there a difference between "mandating" local content and "incentivizing" local content? Is the latter more acceptable?

3. Would the applicability of Article XX GATT general exceptions (protecting the environment) not be available in the case of local content rules?

4. Will we see a splurge of trade disputes wherein renewable energy programs across the world based on local content requirements will be challenged at the dispute settlement mechanism? Will countries take this path or will a negotiated settlement for a renewed multilateral agreement on renewable energy be worked out?

Will keenly await the Panel ruling and the reactions to it.

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