US investigates claims of Chinese module import duty ‘evasion’

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Importers of Chinese cells into the US may be evading anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD), according to the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM).

A US Department of Commerce analysis of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) import data which indicates that “evasion of the AD and CVD orders on Chinese solar cells may be occurring”.

PV-Tech has contacted the Department of Commerce for access to this data.

Commerce states that the data “suggests” that some importers may either be improperly declaring merchandise as not subject to the AD/CVD orders, or may be understating the value of the imported merchandise declared as subject to the relevant orders.

According to a statement, certain companies have been identified as evading duties and now warrant further examination by the CBP. Further details were not provided.

The CBP would be responsible for enforcing action if it finds that legitimate documentation was not provided by importers. CBP has already initiated operations at various ports throughout the country, according to the DoC, which have resulted in the collection of “significant additional cash deposits on merchandise subject to the AD/CVD orders”.

Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America, who lodged the complaint against Chinese manufacturers with Commerce in 2011 said: “For US manufacturing employees, this evasion adds insult to injury.

“The US solar industry and its workforce have suffered profound, sustained harm from China’s illegal trade practices. We alerted US authorities and, over the course of a 13-month investigation, we were proved right. Now the Chinese producers and their importers are apparently trying to sidestep the application of these lawfully determined trade remedies. We applaud the government for being alert to this new phase of cheating.”

CASM claims more than 25 US solar companies have downsized or shuttered plants, filed for bankruptcy protection or withdrawn from the industry as a result of China’s state-directed trade “aggression.”

However, Chinese companies have not escaped unharmed. Suntech Wuxi filed for bankruptcy restructuring last month, while companies like JA Solar have been forced to cut capacity.

As a result of the trade case, the US government set anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties at between 24% and 250% of import values.

The European branch of SolarWorld has further lodged a complaint with the European Commission claiming Chinese manufacturers were dumping on the European market as well as benefiting from government subsidies.

India has also joined the fray launching a complaint not only against China, but also the US, Malaysia and Taiwan.
 

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