American solar manufacturers appeal loophole in trade remedy cases against illegal Chinese practices
Coalition: ‘Now we hope to finish the work. American jobs depend on it.'
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 1, 2013 – The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturers (CASM) today announced appeals in recent trade cases to counter illegal Chinese trade practices. A key appeal, according to CASM, challenges a loophole in the scope of the U.S. trade remedies that allows Chinese producers to evade duties and continue to benefit from illegal, export-intensive subsidies and dump product into the U.S. market.
Appeals filed today with the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York challenge the Department of Commerce's formulation of the cases' scope to cover all solar cells and panels manufactured in China but not cells manufactured elsewhere and assembled into panels in China, CASM announced. The SolarWorld-led coalition argues that Chinese producers of solar panels made from photovoltaic cells produced elsewhere receive the same illegal Chinese subsidies and illegally dump at the same artificially low prices as other Chinese manufacturers. From the 2011 outset of its cases, CASM says, SolarWorld's scope covered both cells and panels; however, the Department of Commerce curtailed it, the coalition says.
"With our cases, the U.S. government went a long way in investigating and attempting to halt the anti-competitive and destructive impacts of China's illegal trade practices on America's domestic solar industry," said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., based in Oregon. "Now we are looking to finish the job. American jobs depend on it."
CASM represents a still-growing coalition representing more than 230 U.S. solar installers, integrators and producers employing more than 18,000 American workers. The National Renewable Energy Laboratories, according to CASM, has concluded that it costs more to produce and ship solar technology for the U.S. market from China than from the United States. In the cases, CASM says, Commerce also found that due to the many illegal categories of illegal subsidies, Chinese producers were selling exports in the U.S. market at prices below their costs of production. The bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) voted 6-0 that China's trade practices were harming U.S. manufacturing. More than 25 solar manufacturers of all kinds have dramatically downsized, filed for bankruptcy or quit the business since 2010, CASM says.
In late 2012, after Commerce's year-long investigation found illegal Chinese subsidization and pricing, the department imposed import duties ranging from 24 percent up to more than 250 percent on solar imports of crystalline silicon solar technology made in China. But because Commerce's final orders excluded panels assembled in China from cells produced elsewhere, CASM says, Chinese producers can grow silicon crystal, slice that crystal into solar wafers, outsource conversion of those wafers into cells to Taiwan or elsewhere, then bring them back for assembly into panels for export to the U.S. market without facing any measure to offset the anti-competitive effects of China's illegal subsidies and U.S. pricing.
In addition to the scope issue, SolarWorld's appeals challenge U.S. government determinations:
* Not to investigate Chinese subsidies on aluminum extrusions and rolled glass, which the Department of Commerce has found in other, similar cases to be illegally subsidized and dumped in the U.S. market.
* Granting separate, lower duty rates for several large Chinese companies such as Trina Solar, Hanwha SolarOne, Chint Solar and JA Solar that should not have qualified for such rates because the companies failed to provide sufficient evidence that they were not ultimately owned or controlled by the Chinese government.
SolarWorld co-founded a coalition in Europe that is similar to CASM but called EU ProSun. The European coalition expects the European Commission this spring to announce preliminary findings on its trade allegations about Chinese solar imports, CASM says.