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U.S. Said to Set Duties as High as 73% on Chinese Towers

U.S. Said to Set Duties as High as 73% on Chinese Wind Towers
Tower sections for wind turbines manufactured by Tang Energy Group in China are off-loaded at the Port of Long Beach, California, on May 19, 2010. Photographer: Tim Rue/Bloomberg

The U.S. Commerce Department set tariffs of as much as 73 percent on imports of wind towers from China and as much as 60 percent on similar products made in Vietnam, people familiar with the decision said.

The agency today made preliminary findings in its investigation of whether producers in the Asian nations are selling utility-scale wind towers in the U.S. below production costs, according to people who declined to be identified before the agency announces the decision.

The department is investigating a complaint filed by U.S. manufacturers including Broadwind Energy Inc. of Naperville, Illinois. The agency on May 30 set duties as high as 26 percent on wind-tower imports from China to compensate for government subsidies, siding with U.S. manufacturers.

The U.S. has imposed duties on numerous types of renewable-energy products from China in recent months, prompting retaliaton in an escalation of trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have pledged stronger enforcement of trade actions against China, ahead of U.S. elections in November.

The Wind Tower Trade Coalition, a group of U.S. manufacturers, in December filed its complaint against Chinese producers with the Obama administration. In addition to Broadwind, the group includes Otter Tail Corp.’s DMI Industries, Katana Summit LLC and a unit of Trinity Industries Inc. The Commerce Department in May set preliminary anti-subsidy duties on Chinese exporters and producers, including CS Wind China Co. and Titan Wind Energy Suzhou Co.

Import Value

The U.S. imported about $222 million of utility-scale wind towers -- the steel structures that support engines and turbine blades -- from China last year, according to the agency.

The Commerce Department on May 17 set anti-dumping tariffs of 31 percent to 250 percent on imports of Chinese solar-energy products, after a complaint by manufacturers including the U.S. unit of SolarWorld AG. The agency in March announced duties of as much as 4.73 percent to offset subsidies received from China’s government, and last month determined that the country’s producers benefited from additional state support. A final ruling on those duties is scheduled for October.

In a complaint May 24 to the Geneva-based World Trade Organization, China’s Ministry of Commerce said renewable-energy programs in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington state violate global trade policies. The nation has also said it filed a complaint at the WTO, alleging that U.S. anti-subsidy duties undercut $7.3 billion in Chinese products including solar panels.

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