Report: World Bank May Have Undercut U.S. Solar Power Companies' Competitiveness
Is the Washington, D.C.-based World Bank hampering American wind and solar power companies, when it comes to competition with their Chinese competitors?
According to an extensive report in The Washington Post, that may be the case.
The World Bank was founded towards the end of World War II, to help with global reconstruction following that conflict and to aid international development. But in its more than three decades of work with the People's Republic, World Bank contracts have reportedly helped Chinese firms win billions of dollars in business – often at the expense of many U.S. companies' market share in the growing and lucrative alternative energy sector.
“What you see is a serious problem when these loans go to fund massive overcapacity [in China] that ends up harming U.S. industries and U.S. workers as a result,” Tim Brightbill, an attorney at Wiley Rein, told the Post. In late 2011, Wiley Rein filed a successful lawsuit against Chinese solar power manufacturers on behalf of SolarWorld Industries (OTC: SRWRY) with the support of the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing.
SolarWorld's challenge to what the company calls “China's anticompetitive campaign” of subsidizing overbuilding for the export-only solar industry and product dumping of exported solar products on American markets led to U.S. government-imposed duties of anywhere from 31 percent to 250 percent on Chinese solar-power imports.
The Washington Post article notes China is the World Bank's third-largest borrower – receiving almost $56 billion in loans over the past 33 years, with over 100 programs currently under way. About ten years ago, as China's economy blossomed, Beijing no longer became eligible for the Bank's lower lending rattes. But critics say that, given China's financial strength, such World Bank perks must end.
“We were busy just trying to create basic conditions for growth in education, health and industry,” Pieter Bottelier, the bank’s China country director in the 1990s, told the Post. Bottelier said that, during that time, “the question at some later point of whether the beneficiaries might become subject to antitrust or international scrutiny was simply not on the horizon.”
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