The US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has expressed surprise after being publicly criticised by Solarworld for its response to the ongoing US-China solar trade spat.

In an open letter published on Renewable Energy World, Mukesh Dulani, president of Solarworld Americas, slammed the SEIA for condemning the latest US trade duties on Chinese and Taiwanese firms.

"Since this destructive solar trade war first erupted, SEIA has consistently urged all of the parties involved to work toward a negotiated settlement – and that position has not changed,” SEIA spokesman Ken Johnson said in an emailed statement to PV Tech.

“For months now, SEIA has been working behind the scenes to facilitate a meaningful, productive dialogue between Solarworld and Chinese manufacturers, so this public criticism is a little surprising. But it won’t, in any way, deter us from trying to resolve this long-running dispute through negotiation rather than litigation, where everyone stands to lose. We firmly believe that an equitable settlement is still possible, allowing for free and fair trade between the US and China, while avoiding punitive tariffs and hard feelings in the future,” said Johnson.

Solarworld’s Dulani suggested the SEIA had not maintained its neutrality through the latest dispute.

“As SEIA is well aware, all countries and all industries are subject to international trade rules…That you sanction the actions of some of your Chinese members to break US laws and World Trade Organization rules raises serious questions about the interests and intentions of SEIA, a trade association that pledged in 2011 to remain neutral in this dispute,” wrote Dulani.

Solarworld is open to a negotiated settlement to end trade disputes with Chinese solar firms in the US he said, adding that the company will not sign-up to the deal proposed by the SEIA.

“Solarworld has never closed the door on negotiations as long as they include two very basic conditions. First, any agreement or negotiated solution must eliminate China's unfair trade practices. Second, it must be enforceable. The Chinese manufacturers have yet to embrace these core conditions. Moreover, the Chinese record of compliance to suspension agreements hardly inspires confidence,” Dulani wrote.

“Lastly, based on our reading of the Commerce Department’s memo regarding the preliminary dumping and countervailing duties decisions, Solarworld believes that there is a way forward toward a negotiated settlement. However, the SEIA proposal from September 2013 is not it,” he said referring to the previous proposal based in part on a timber settlement between Canada and the US.

The SEIA will send a delegation to China later this week to discuss potential options for addressing the growing patchwork of trade tariffs in the US market.