PV manufacturer SolarWorld is taking the United States government to court for allegedly failing to enforce trade policies against Chinese PV imports into the country.
The company, which led a successful campaign in the US last year to introduce anti-dumping duties on Chinese module manufacturers, claims the US Department of Commerce has failed in a number of areas to properly police Chinese PV imports, with the result that trade “remedies” against Chinese manfuacturers have been “weakened”.
Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc said: “We are exhausting all avenues to engage well-established international trade law in countering China’s illegal trade aggression, which continues to siphon clean-energy business and jobs from the US economy.”
The company has submitted arguments to the US Court of International Trade in New York claiming that ‘dozens’ of China-based PV manufacturers did not provide evidence or adequate evidence that they operated as independent companies free from Chinese state control or ownership.
SolarWorld argues that this failure to provide such information should have led to many companies receiving a ‘China-wide’ anti-dumping import duty rate of 250%. Instead many companies (not identified in SolarWorld’s statement) received individual rates much lower than the claimed correct duty.
SolarWorld is also challenging a separate duty that was imposed on Chinese imported aluminium framing used for c-Si PV modules. The company claims that the US Department of Commerce “erroneously set aside a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ruling which determined the proper classification of aluminum frames used by one of the biggest Chinese producers in its solar panels”, believed to refer to Suntech Power Holdings, which had a small module plant in Arizona, before it was closed.
SolarWorld believes that the failure to use what it regards would be the proper classification meant aluminium frames were undervalued and therefore carried understated antidumping margins.
However, the key challenge is SolarWorld’s attempt to appeal the so-called ‘scope ruling’, which enabled Chinese module manufacturers to avoid duties if they used solar cells produced outside China.
The company said that a briefing on that issue was planned to start after the briefing concluded on the anti-dumping appeals.
SolarWorld is also planning a legal challenge against the EC agreement with China on duty rates and a quota system after investigating anti-dumping practices again initiated by SolarWorld.