June import value declines 60 percent from 2011 levels
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 13, 2012 – For the third straight month, imports of Chinese solar cells and panels into the United States decreased year-over-year, according to the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM). In June, Chinese solar imports totaled $99.6 million, down almost 60 percent from $241.5 million in June 2011, according to the Department of Commerce's "U.S. Imports of Merchandise" database. The year-over-year decline is significant and reflects the market's rising recognition of the costs, risks and uncertainties associated with importing Chinese solar cells and panels, according to CASM.
While some of the year-on-year decrease is due to sharply falling module prices from 2011 to 2012, June 2012 imports of Chinese solar cells and panels were also down 20 percent from the previous month's total of $124.1 million. Between the same two months in 2011, the value of Chinese imports increased 7 percent.
Despite three months of declines, Chinese import levels for all of 2012 are still ahead of last year's record pace: For the first six months of this year, the total value of Chinese cell and panel imports reached $1.32 billion, up from $1.23 billion for the same period of 2011, an increase of 7.3 percent, according to the Commerce data. The increase is even more significant because dumped and subsidized Chinese pricing has lowered the per-watt average import values so dramatically in 2011 and 2012.
Importantly, June was the first month in which Chinese manufacturers were fully affected by both preliminary anti-subsidy duties of up to 4.73 percent on Chinese cells and panels that Commerce announced on March 26, 2012, and preliminary antidumping duties on Chinese solar cell and panel imports ranging from 31 percent to 249.96 percent announced on May 25, 2012, according to CASM. The 31 percent rate applies only to specifically named combinations of producers and exporters; companies not specifically listed by Commerce must pay duty deposits at the 249.96 percent rate. Because of a ruling of critical circumstances, the anti-subsidy duties were retroactive to Dec. 27, 2011, and the anti-dumping duties were retroactive to Feb. 25.
Commerce's ongoing investigations are focused on the actual amount of dumping that occurred during the second and third quarters of 2011, and the amount of unfair subsidies benefiting China's solar industry in calendar year 2010. Final margins in both cases, which are scheduled to be announced Oct. 9, could differ. In fact, Commerce has already identified additional categories of illegal subsidy programs that are likely to increase the final countervailing duty rates. Commerce also found that both Wuxi Suntech and Trina Solar were not creditworthy at various times during part of the review period.
The final determinations will finalize the estimated duty deposit rates for current entries of Chinese imports. The final amounts of duties owed by importers for imports after October 9 will not actually be finalized for more than a year. If Commerce determines that Chinese pricing fell more than production costs for those imports, then the final duty margins also will increase.
Although the value of all global imports decreased in June 2012 compared to the previous year, imports from several countries rose significantly, compared with shipments in June 2011. These countries include Malaysia ($113.2 million, up almost 96 percent year-on-year), although much of this increase was due to imports by First Solar, a U.S. thin film producer not subject to antidumping and countervailing duties. Imports from Taiwan ($32.4 million,) and the Philippines ($39.2 million) also increased. CASM continues to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to detect and prevent any circumvention of preliminary duties. In addition, CASM continues to have serious concerns about reports of Chinese producers engaging in minor alteration or processing of products in third-countries like Taiwan, in order to evade the antidumping and countervailing duties. CASM has asked the Commerce Department to address this issue in its final determination by clarifying that such products are covered by the scope and subject to duties.
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The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, founded by seven companies that manufacture solar cells and panels in the United States, has more than 220 employers of nearly 18,000 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; other questions or comments may be emailed to email@example.com.