China’s Ministry of Commerce is to ban the import of tariff-dodging solar-grade polysilicon from the 1 September.
According to a statement on the ministry website, the measure is a response to a rush of polysilicon imports from US, Europe and South Korea.
Importers have been able to avoid tariffs under ‘trade processing’ rules whereby a product is not subject to the additional levy if the end product, solar modules in this case, are to then be exported. With Germany's Wacker exempt from existing duties and Korea's OCI subject to a low tariff rate, the target of the closed loophole is presumably US producers.
The move comes less than a month after new punitive trade duties were announced in the US for Chinese modules that were partly manufactured outside the mainland. The move was intended to stop panels from China circumventing trade tariffs from 2012 by using Taiwanese cells. China had been thought to be working on a settlement to the disagreement.
Contracts already approved by the Department of Commerce before 1 September will be allowed to run their course.
China placed punitive duties on US and South Korean polysilicon in January 2014.
It announced duties on polysilicon imports from the EU in April. The largest importer, Wacker Chemie, was excluded from those duties.
It is unclear whether the company is included in the import ban. The company was not available for comment at the time of writing due to a local holiday.