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US Solar Companies Seek Relief

Category: Imports, Trade Policy

Coalition petitions US government for countervailing duties on Chinese imports

SolarWorld Industries America, which lays claim to being the largest US domestic producer of crystalline silicon photovoltaic products, is at the head of a seven-member Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing that filed petitions October 19 with the US Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission seeking relief from China’s solar cell and panel trade practices.

The petitions allege that the Chinese solar product dumping margins are well in excess of 100%, and ask the US government to impose duties to offset Chinese dumping and massive subsidies. The cases exclude thin-film PV products and non-PV technologies such as solar thermal and concentrated solar.

As we noted last month, the trade data does indicate a surge in exports accompanied by a drop in price. But for countervailing duties to be imposed, two requirements must be met: first, dumping and subsidies must be confirmed; second, the threat or actuality of “material injury” to the US domestic industry must be established.

According to the information on the coalition’s website, the petitions argue that the massive volumes of Chinese imports at artificially low prices caused market pricing in the US to collapse in 2011, with an average worldwide price decline of 40%.

The resulting material injury over the past 18months includes the shut down or downsizing of seven solar plants, the loss of thousands of jobs in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as several bankruptcies.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Suntech Power Holdings Co. has rejected the petitioner’s claim as protectionism that jeopardizes thousands of jobs. The Chinese company, which says it is the world’s largest producer of solar panels, is number 1 on our list of Datamyne Top 5 Chinese solar module shippers by volume in 2011. Suntech also recently announced that it was adding a third shift at its new solar panel manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

Date posted: October 20, 2011

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