Solar trade war: U.S. DOC sets preliminary anti-subsidy tariffs at 19-35% on Chinese solar PV cells, modules

Suntech headquarters
Wuxi Suntech has been singled out for the highest duty rate at 35.21%. Image: Suntech

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has imposed preliminary anti-subsidy tariffs (countervailing duties or CVD) of 19-35% on imports of crystalline silicon solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules from China, effective immediately.

Wuxi Suntech (Wuxi, China) and affiliates received the highest tariffs at 35.21%, versus only 18.56% for Trina Solar (Changzhou, China). All other Chinese PV makers received duties of 26.89%.


DOC is expected to issue a preliminary anti-dumping ruling on PV products from both China and Taiwan on July 25th, 2014. As was the case in the previous investigation, anti-dumping duties and CVD will be combined.

The agency will make its final CVD ruling on August 18th, 2014, with a confirmation by the U.S. International Trade Commission on October 3rd, 2014.


Broadening of previous investigation

The anti-dumping and CVD investigations follow on similar trade actions in 2012; however the previous investigation only focused on PV cells and not modules.

Additionally, the scope of the current anti-dumping case has been extended to include Taiwan, a reaction to Chinese PV makers' practice of using Taiwanese PV cells to avoid U.S. tariffs. Taiwanese PV is not included in the CVD investigation.

The previous trade case may have already had an effect, as U.S. imports of Chinese PV fell to only USD 1.49 billion in 2013, less than half their value in 2011. This was despite a rapidly growing U.S. PV market.


SolarWorld: A win for the U.S. solar industry

SolarWorld Industries Americas Inc. (Hillsboro, Oregon, U.S.) lauded the decision. “Today is a strong win for the U.S. solar industry,” said SolarWorld Industries America President Mukesh Dulani.

“We look forward to the end of illegal Chinese government intervention in the U.S. solar market, and we applaud Commerce for its work that supports fair trade.”
 
However, manufacturers like SolarWorld make up a small portion of U.S. PV industry employment. The investigations have not been popular throughout the U.S. value chain, as they will increase prices for PV.


Southeast Asian manufacturers, thin-film makers to benefit

Beneficiaries of these trade rulings will include U.S. and European companies such as SunPower Corp. (San Jose, California, U.S.) and REC Solar ASA (Oslo) who manufacture PV in Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia, as they will have less cost competition from Chinese PV.

Thin-film PV makers including First Solar Inc. (Tempe, Arizona, U.S.) will likewise benefit in the market segments where they are active.

 

2014-06-03 | Courtesy: U.S. Department of Commerce; Image: Suntech | solarserver.com © Heindl Server GmbH

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