US ITC to investigate SolarWorld’s ‘loop-hole’ complaints

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The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has agreed to SolarWorld Industries Americas request to investigate anti-dumping (AD) and anti-subsidy ‘loop-hole’ claims over imported PV products including solar cells used in Chinese modules supplied from Taiwan.

According to the ITC, a preliminary determination on AD can be expected by February 14, 2014.

Should the investigation determine injury has occurred the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) would issue a countervailing duty (CVD) judgement sometime in March, 2014 and a preliminary AD ruling sometime in June 2014.

The SolarWorld petition picked-on the widely-used practice by Chinese module producers to purchase solar cells made by Taiwanese cell producers for PV modules later imported into the US.

The original AD and CVD investigations that concluded with heavy duties in October, 2012 on Chinese imported PV modules related specifically to solar cells produced in China.

The broader investigation now being undertaken could have significantly wider implications for the global PV industry.

Other than major solar cell suppliers in Taiwan, US-based downstream PV companies such as SolarCity and SunEdison are major importers of modules fabricated in China but use non-Chinese solar cells for rooftop, commercial and utility-scale PV projects in the US.

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), which claims to represent the majority of the US solar industry against previous and current SolarWorld AD and CVD complaints, believes the ITC action is counter to the US PV industry needs.

“SolarWorld is looking to single-handedly kill U.S. solar jobs, which are primarily in solar installation, not in solar cell or panel manufacturing,” said CASE President, Jigar Shah. “Because of worldwide fair price competition, we have been able to significantly lower the cost of installing solar across the nation’s residential and commercial rooftops—which, in turn, has created more than 119,000 jobs to date.”

“The government shouldn’t reward or protect one German company that is not fitting into the thriving global solar industry,” added Shah. “It also should not punish the American companies that have found a job-creating niche in that same industry. The prosecution of this trade case is not going to solve the problem of promoting American manufacturing – it will just disrupt the industry.”

Ahead of the ITC’s decision to investigate the loop-holes the Chinese Government imposed new tariffs on polysilicon producers importing the material into China, which included key global suppliers with production plants in the US.

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