SolarWorld applauds trade remedies, signals plan to block evasive practices
Thursday, 11 October 2012 06:27
For the duties to become final, the company will await a November 7 decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on whether the Chinese practices are injuring the U.S. industry. If the ITC votes affirmatively, as it did unanimously in a preliminary ruling in late 2011, Commerce’s final duties will go into effect. The ITC ruling will conclude one of the largest U.S. trade cases brought against China. Supported by the 226-employer Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, the case aims to stop the Chinese government from investing massive improper subsidies to underwrite its solar industry’s export campaign and dump products, or sell them at artificially low prices, to seize U.S. market share.
“SolarWorld and CASM have fought only to give the solar-pioneering domestic industry a fair chance to continue to compete by removing China’s trade distortions from the U.S. market,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., based in Oregon. “Only fair competition can provide sustainable gains in technological efficiency, cost reduction and end-user pricing. Commerce’s decision raises the industry’s chances of reclaiming equal footing for domestic, sustainable and environmentally sound solar-technology producers and their jobs.”
Commerce yesterday called for anti-dumping duties of 31.73 percent on imports of solar photovoltaic cells and panels from Suntech, 18.32 percent from Trina Solar, 25.96 percent from other companies that had requested but not received individual duty determinations and 249.96 percent from all other Chinese producers, including those controlled by the Chinese government. Those changed from preliminary duties, imposed since late May, of 31.14 percent, 31.22 percent, 31.18 percent and 249.96 percent, respectively.
In addition, the department recommended anti-subsidy duties of 14.78 percent for imports made by Suntech, 15.97 percent Trina Solar and 15.24 percent for all other Chinese manufacturers. Those changed from preliminary anti-subsidy duties of 2.9 percent for Suntech, 4.73 percent for Trina and 3.59 percent for all other Chinese producers. With the final determination, Commerce has found more than a dozen categories of subsidy programs to be illegal, because they support China’s massive overcapacity and export-oriented solar industry, which has injured the U.S. domestic industry.
Commerce did not alter its preliminary determination on the scope of its ruling, which covered photovoltaic cells produced or assembled into panels in China but not panels made from cells produced in third countries. SolarWorld’s initial, broader scope had covered all cells and panels produced in China. If the ITC rules in favor of the domestic industry on Nov. 7, SolarWorld is resolved immediately to seek separate, enforcement actions from Commerce to impose duties on panels assembled in China from cells in third countries.
SolarWorld submitted its trade cases almost a year ago – on Oct. 19, 2011 – on behalf of a coalition of seven domestic manufacturers, including Helios Solar Works of Wisconsin and MX Solar USA of New Jersey. Thereafter, the coalition in favor of sustainable production, domestic manufacturing and trade free of illegal foreign government intervention swelled to a total of more than 225 solar-industry companies employing about 18,000 American workers. More than 85 percent of CASM members are downstream operators, such as installers and financiers.
SolarWorld said China’s massive production overcapacity and government-funded export drive have left the world industry in ruins. In the U.S. market alone, SolarWorld said, at least 14 crystalline silicon solar producers have closed plants or laid off significant numbers of workers; including producers of newer, thin-film solar technologies, the number exceeds 22. Many Chinese producers also have experienced losses as high as billions of dollars, SolarWorld contended, but those companies survive as a result of Chinese government bailouts.
Despite the losses, SolarWorld said, the Chinese manufacturers have seized astonishing market-share gains at the expense of U.S. domestic producers and jobs as well as of supply-chain manufacturers and workers that support finished-product manufacturers. SolarWorld said just as the solar industry reached a tipping point into mainstream adoption, China, with virtually no industry know-how, launched its export drive into the U.S. solar market, as part of its central five-year planning process targeting emerging “strategic industries.”
The Chinese producers enjoy no technological, production or cost advantage, according to SolarWorld. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that without government sponsorship, Chinese producers confront a 5 percent cost disadvantage in producing and delivering solar into the U.S. market, compared with domestic producers.
For its part, SolarWorld has pulled further ahead as the world solar-technology leader, offering a 270-watt, 60-cell panel – the world’s first – as it invests yet another $27 million in technological and manufacturing advances in its Oregon plant and $62 million in its plants worldwide. The addition brings its total investment in Oregon to more than $610 million without any federal subsidies to support development of its operations there. www.SolarWorld.com
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