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US Confirms Duties On Chinese Solar Product Imports

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

19 December 2014

On December 16, the United States Department of Commerce announced affirmative final determinations in its anti-dumping duty (AD) and anti-subsidy countervailing duty (CVD) investigations into certain imports of solar products from China and Taiwan.

The value of US imports of solar products from China increased from USD639.5m in 2009 to some USD3.1bn in 2012, provoking US investigations that led to rulings in December 2012 for duties averaging about 31 percent on panels made from Chinese solar cells.

However, it was alleged at the end of last year that Chinese companies have been avoiding those duties by assembling panels from solar cells produced elsewhere, especially in Taiwan, even if those cells are put together from components originating in China. In 2013, US imports of the solar products from China and Taiwan under investigation were still valued at an estimated USD1.5bn and USD650m, respectively.

A petition by SolarWorld America Industries, Inc., the largest manufacturer of solar power systems in the US, stated that China is continuing to sell below US market prices to seize market share.

Commerce has determined that imports of solar products from China have been sold in the US at AD margins ranging from 26.71 percent to 165.04 percent, while the same products from Taiwan have also been sold in the US at AD margins from 11.45 percent to 27.55 percent. In addition, it has also been decided that imports of those products from China have received unfair subsidies that should be subject to CVDs ranging from 27.64 percent to 49.79 percent.

SolarWorld commended Commerce's decision. Mukesh Dulani, its US President, said, "These remedies come just in time to enable the domestic industry to return to conditions of fair trade. The tariffs and scope set the stage for companies to create new jobs and build or expand factories on US soil."

However, others in the renewable energy sector are not convinced and have pointed to the future effect on the US solar market. Environmental organizations are concerned that the decisions will prevent a reduction in the cost of solar panels and slow the move away from the use of fossil fuels.

Jigar Shah, President of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, said: "Today's decision to further tax solar panels from China – even those with key components made in the US – will undercut the growth of American solar jobs, hurt the American solar industry, and make it more difficult for solar technology to compete against fossil fuels. These unnecessary taxes inhibit competition and put upward pressure on solar panel prices needed by US homeowners, installers, and utilities."

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) also expressed its strong dissatisfaction with the US action. Given its previously expressed views that the US is abusing trade remedy measures and exhibiting trade protectionist tendencies, it noted that the US had again disregarded the facts and legal precedent on country of origin trade rules and insisted that it should objectively and fairly handle ongoing solar trade disputes.

MOFCOM feared that the US has "further exacerbated the trade dispute and caused serious damage to trade and industrial cooperation between the two countries." It added that it would now "consider the exercise of its rights within the World Trade Organization to safeguard its interests."

Commerce will issue AD and CVD orders in February next year, if the US International Trade Commission also provides its expected positive determination, due on January 29, 2015, that the import of Chinese and Taiwanese solar products has injured domestic manufacturers.

TAGS: environment | Energy | tax | business | energy | tariffs | anti-dumping | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | China | Taiwan | manufacturing | trade disputes | United States | import duty | trade

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