U.S. solar producers call on trade association to fulfill pledge of neutrality in trade dispute

Coalition says calls for trade deals and talks, new or old, are meaningless without Chinese government and solar-industry compliance to rules

Washington, D.C., May 24, 2012 – The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) today calls on U.S. solar-industry trade associations to fulfill their pledges of neutrality in a solar-technology trade dispute by ceasing to endorse avenues for China to evade full accountability to well-established world trade laws and agreements.

Only through fair, legal and robust competition can the industry assure optimal reductions in production costs and pricing, according to CASM. Restoring competition is a steppingstone to sustainable development of the industry and jobs in participating nations, including the United States.

A week ago today, after the Department of Commerce issued its second preliminary determination that the state-sponsored Chinese industry is engaging in illegal trade practices in the U.S. market and imposed antidumping margins of 31 percent to 250 percent, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) immediately called for trade talks and new agreements. The intent would be to resolve CASM's trade cases to end more than three years of illegal Chinese-industry trade practices, which have risked extinguishing the U.S. manufacturing industry.

"As a SEIA member, I am extremely disappointed that SEIA would call for a premature settlement of our trade dispute," said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the largest solar manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere and leader of CASM. "SEIA has maintained that it would take no position in this case, but its actions speak louder than its words."

CASM, a coalition of more than 210 companies representing all phases of the solar industry, has repeatedly and publicly signaled its resolve to pursue its WTO-sanctioned right to submit the facts of its trade cases for U.S. investigators to prescribe appropriate remedies. Midway through a 13-month investigation, the coalition questions how SEIA's neutrality would prompt a call for ending the fact-based approach in favor of a negotiated, political or geopolitical resolution. CASM also questioned whether SEIA consulted with its full membership before its call for settlement negotiations.

In a story published Thursday, The New York Times described the Commerce determination as one that is "made by civil servants in a quasi-judicial process that is heavily insulated by law from political interference and does not represent a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to confront China on trade policy."

"Our position is straightforward: We do not need talks and we do not need deals," Brinser said. "We need the Chinese government and industry to obey requirements of U.S. and world trade law under the WTO."

Within hours of Commerce's announcement last Thursday, SEIA issued a statement calling for "the U.S. and Chinese governments to immediately work together towards a mutually satisfactory resolution" to avoid further escalation in the "U.S.-China solar trade disputes." The preliminary determination called for anti-dumping duties against most Chinese manufacturers, including the largest, Suntech, which heads SEIA.

"Nothing we are doing can start a trade war," Brinser said. "The government of China did that by mounting massive illegal trade practices in 2009, and we are now trying to stop them. With downsizings or bankruptcies for at least 12 U.S. manufacturing since 2010, we have taken a stand – too late, regrettably, for thousands of American workers – on the rule of law for the sake of the remaining American industry and its employees and the proud U.S. solar-industry heritage."

The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, founded by seven companies that manufacture solar cells and panels in the United States, has more than 210 employers of more than 17,000 workers who have registered their support for CASM's case. The founding manufacturers have plants in nearly every region in the United States, including the Northwest and California, the Southwest, Midwest, Northeast and South and support several thousand U.S. manufacturing jobs. For details about CASM, go to www.americansolarmanufacturing.org; email media questions to media@americansolarmanufacturing.org; other questions or comments may be emailed to contact@americansolarmanufacturing.org.

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