The US Department of Commerce (DOC) has delayed its decision regarding a potential investigation into alleged circumvention of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on solar imports while it requests more information from petitioners.
In a letter sent yesterday (Wednesday) to Wiley Rein, the law firm representing the American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (A-SMACC), the DOC asked for additional details, including the name of each member of the alliance, before it would consider the merits of its requests for anti-circumvention rulings.
The response follows petitions filed last month by the group, which requested that investigations be carried out to determine whether imports of cells that have been further manufactured in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, using wafers manufactured in China, are circumventing the AD/CVD orders on crystalline silicon cells from China.
In its filings last month, A-SMACC said disclosure of its members could lead to retribution against them. However, the DOC has asked the group to explain in more detail why they would face retaliation and other forms of harm as a result of being part of the alliance. Once it has received all the information it has asked for, the department said it will accordingly consider the group’s requests.
Trade association the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said that while it is disappointed that the DOC did not dismiss the petitions outright, it believes the petitioners “have no case for circumvention”.
“The detail and nature of the questions Commerce asked the anonymous petitioners clearly indicates that the petitioners have produced a filing largely devoid of the information the department needs to assess whether to initiate this case,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO at SEIA.
In a letter sent last week to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, nearly 200 companies warned that new duties on the three Southeast Asian countries would thwart US efforts to effectively tackle climate change. The three targeted countries account for 80% of all module imports to the US, SEIA said, adding that the tariffs could jeopardise the deployment of 18GW of US solar by 2023.
In a press release published earlier this week, Tim Brightbill, partner at Wiley Rein, said that SEIA’s claims are “wrong and wildly overstated”. He said the circumvention case will promote the Biden administration’s goals of rapidly addressing climate change while Building Back Better and rebuilding the solar supply chain and solar manufacturing in the US.
In a statement sent to PV Tech today in response to the DOC’s requests, Brightbill said: “We are pleased that the Commerce Department is considering our petition and has requested more information. We believe the information we provide will further their investigation into circumvention.”
The DOC set A-SMACC a deadline of 6 October to respond to its questions.
After that 6 October deadline, the DOC would have a 45-day window in which to deliver its decision on whether or not an investigation is justified.