India takes U.S. renewable energy dispute to the WTO

People talk outside the headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - India has complained to the World Trade Organization about support given to the renewable energy industry in eight U.S. states, the WTO said in a statement on Monday.

The complaint alleges the states of Washington, California, Montana, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Michigan, Delaware and Minnesota prop up their renewables sector with illegal subsidies and domestic content requirements - an obligation to buy local goods rather than imports.

The WTO statement did not give details of the complaint and there was no immediate comment from India’s trade ministry. But India has voiced concerns in the past about U.S. support for its solar power industry.

The race to build national solar capacity and grab a chunk of a new global market has become a major new cause of trade friction between big trading powers. India lost a case at the WTO earlier this year after the United States complained about New Delhi’s national solar program.

India has appealed that ruling.

In 2013, India filed questions at the WTO about suspected subsidies in solar programs in four U.S. states - Delaware, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Connecticut - as well as local content requirements in Michigan and California’s renewable energy programs.

It was not immediately clear that Monday’s complaint was on the same grounds as India’s earlier questions.

By filing the complaint, India has triggered a 60-day window for the United States to settle the dispute, after which India could ask the WTO to adjudicate.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Hugh Lawson