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SolarWorld lodges new US trade case against Chinese manufacturers

  • SolarWorld, Oregon.
    SolarWorld, Oregon: The company claims Chinese PV manufacturers are exploiting a loophole to evade US import duties. Image: SolarWorld.

International manufacturer SolarWorld has launched a fresh petition to end what it claims are anti-competitive activities by Chinese and Taiwanese PV manufacturers in the US.

The company, which has been the main agitator in previous American and European trade actions against China, said its latest petition was designed to close a loophole in trade duties on Chinese solar imports introduced by the US government in 2012.

In a statement on 31 December 2013, SolarWorld said the apparent loophole allowed Chinese producers to evade US duties by around 31% by assembling modules from cells manufactured in third countries.

The company said it had lodged anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases with the US International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce outlinining how the dodge is allowing Chinese manufacturers to continue selling below production cost and to “seize market share”.

“We’re finishing the job of presenting the facts to our trade regulators to prevent China from further damaging yet another manufacturing industry and another rich base of employment,” said Mukesh Dulani, president of SolarWorld Industries America, based in Oregon.

“China obviously recognises the key importance of solar-technology manufacturing to future economic competitiveness. But we do, too. Therefore, we are once again simply asking our trade regulators to investigate the facts and apply the well-established laws that enable free trade, robust competition and lower long-term pricing. If fair competition can be restored, the US industry will return to growth.”

SolarWorld said it was operating with the support of the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, which has 241 member bodies.

But the Solar Energy Industries Association, America’s largest solar trade body, said it opposed SolarWorld’s latest move against the Chinese.

SEIA president and chief executive, Rhone Resch, said: “More litigation is the wrong approach. Trade litigation is a blunt instrument and, alone, incapable of resolving the complex competitiveness issues that exist between the US and Chinese solar industries. It’s time to end this conflict and negotiations must play a role.”

Resch highlighted the approach the SEIA has advocated, pointing to the settlement plan the body put forward last year.

“SEIA’s proposal provides a mutually-satisfactory resolution which recognises the interests of all solar stakeholders and not just one segment of the industry,” said Resch.

“To the best of our knowledge, however, the US and Chinese governments have neither adopted SEIA’s proposal as the basis for negotiations nor put forth any meaningful offer to resolve the broader conflict.  It’s time for both governments to get in the game and end this conflict – we urge the United States and China to immediately commit to serious, results-driven negotiations.”

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