WTO backs Japan in Ontario solar promo row


A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel has upheld Japan’s claim that the provincial government of Ontario unfairly treated local firms in its solar power promotion program in violation of the organization’s rules, sources said.

According to an interim report by the Geneva-based WTO, Ontario’s fee-in-tariff system requiring solar and other power generation facilities to meet certain local-content levels runs counter to WTO rules, supporting the position by Japan and the European Union, the sources said Tuesday.

The panel, however, dismissed the claim by Japan and the EU that the system, introduced in 2009, is tantamount to unauthorized subsidies under WTO rules.

In 2010, Japan proposed holding bilateral talks with Canada on the issue, but it filed a complaint with the WTO in June last year, seeking establishment of a dispute-settlement panel after Ontario hiked the local-content ratio.

The panel is expected to submit its final report to the two countries in November, although its content is not expected to be revealed before the turn of the year.

U.S. trade envoy to visit


Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler will visit Japan from Thursday for talks with trade and foreign policy officials, according to sources.

The visit follows a recent reshuffle of senior officials in charge of trade at the Foreign and industry ministries, as well as some Cabinet posts, the sources said Tuesday.

Cutler, in charge of Japan, South Korea and Asia-Pacific economic cooperation affairs, is expected to discuss the issue of Japan’s entry into the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade negotiations.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has yet to make a decision on the issue, due to persistent domestic opposition to Japan’s participation in the talks.