On May 17, 2012, the Department of Commerce has announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty investigation of imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells from the People’s Republic of China. Brought forward by SolarWorld last October, the DoC has determined that Chinese producers/exporters sold solar cells in the United States at dumping margins ranging from 31.14% to 249.96% citing this as “less than fair value”.

Mandatory respondents in this investigation are the collapsed entities Wuxi Suntech Power and Changzhou Trina Solar Energy and Science and Technology. Wuxi Suntech and Trina Solar received preliminary dumping margins of 31.22% and 31.14%, respectively. Fifty-nine other exporters qualified for a separate rate of 31.18% and all other Chinese producers/exporters received a preliminary dumping margin of 249.96%.

As a result of this preliminary determination, the DoC will instruct US Customs and Border Protection to require a cash deposit or bond based on these preliminary rates, applicable to all entries of Chinese solar cells made up to 90 days prior to the date of publication of the preliminary determination notice.

This will be in addition to the preliminary countervailing duties unveiled in March. The DoC ruled that this duty covers not only imports of solar cells produced in China and solar modules/panels produced in China from Chinese-made solar cells, but also imports of solar modules/panels produced outside of China from solar cells produced in China. The DoC stated that its investigation does not cover imports of modules/panels produced in China from solar cells produced in a third country.

The DoC will publish its final determination later this year:

Petition Filed: October 19, 2011
DOC Initiation Date: November 8, 2011
ITC Preliminary Determination: December 5, 2011
DOC Preliminary Determination: May 16, 2012
DOC Final Determination: October 9, 2012
ITC Final Determination: November 23, 2012
Issuance of Order: November 30, 2012

If the result of this final determination finds that Chinese manufactures China materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry, the DoC will issue an anti-dumping order, but it has been left to the US International Trade Commission to make its final injury determination on or before November 19, 2012.

The DoC has estimated that in 2011, imports of solar cells from China were valued at US$3.1 billion.

Further updates and announcements will be posted throughout the day.