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Published on: Monday, March 19, 2012

Feds Mull Tariff On China Solar Imports

 
 

WASHINGTON, March 20 (LID) – The U.S. Commerce Department today will make a preliminary administrative decision on whether to impose additional tariffs of as much as 250 percent on Chinese solar imports.

Seven U.S. manufacturers of solar panels, led by Hillsboro, Ore.-based SolarWorld Industries America Inc., are seeking anti-subsidy tariffs to help create a more fair marketplace.

The SolarWorld trade case, filed with the Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission, alleges China is engaging in unfair trade practices by selling solar panels for less than they cost to produce, a move that undercuts American producers.

The complaint alleges dumping margins over 100 percent.

The Chinese government, additionally, subsidizes the country’s solar industry in violation of World Trade Organization rules, U.S. firms claim.

The complaint outlines 200 subsidies the Chinese government provides its solar industry.

Chinese manufacturers, the complaint alleges, enjoy an unfair advantage over American firms because of government subsidies including reduced raw-materials costs, tax exemptions, below-market loans and discounted prices of land, electricity and water.

Opposed to increased U.S. tariffs to offset the Chinese subsidies is the Washington-based Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), which argues the move would threaten increased jobs and investment in the U.S. solar industry.

On Monday, the group called on SolarWorld and the other Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) members seeking anti-subsidy tariffs to disclose supply-side government subsidies the firms have received over the past 10 years.

SolarWorld, the group claims, has received more than $100 million in direct supply-side subsidies that give the company a competitive advantage.

“It’s clear that SolarWorld is one of the most heavily-subsidized companies in the history of the solar industry,” said CASE President Jigar Shah. “If their crusade is truly about fairness, we urge them to release a detailed list of all the subsidies and tax breaks they have received globally.”

In a March 13 op-ed in The Oregonian newspaper, Ocean Yuan, founder and president of Grape Solar in Eugene, Ore., and J. Greg Holder, founder and president of AM Solar in Springfield, Ore., make a case against punitive tariffs on China.

“The tariff would threaten the steady decline in the cost of solar power, driven in part by competitive prices, that has sparked the growth in jobs and investment in the American solar energy industry include installers and others who benefit from low-cost panels. They say tariffs would boost prices and kill thousands of U.S. jobs,” they wrote.

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