China said it’s dissatisfied with a U.S. decision to apply preliminary duties on Chinese solar equipment imports, imposed after the U.S. government determined they’d benefited unfairly from government subsidies.
The ruling by the U.S. Department of Commerce “won’t solve the problems of the U.S. solar industry,” an unidentified official said in a statement on the Chinese Commerce Ministry’s website. It urged the U.S. to stop the investigation as soon as possible.
The U.S. government’s preliminary decision assigns tariffs ranging from 18.56 percent on Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co. Ltd. to 35.21 percent on Wuxi Suntech Power Co., Bloomberg BNA reported yesterday, citing the ruling’s fact sheet distributed by petitioner SolarWorld AG, based in Bonn, Germany. It will instruct U.S. Custom and Border Protection to collect cash deposits based on the preliminary rates in advance of a final ruling expected around Aug. 18.
The duty imposed on Wuxi Suntech is “completely unfair” as the panel maker doesn’t receive subsidies from the Chinese government, Chief Executive Officer Eric Luo said today. While Suntech shares U.S. concerns over price declines in the industry, trade disputes are contributing to the greater problem of overall “industry instability,” Luo said in an e-mailed statement.
The allegations made by SolarWorld are “unfounded” and Trina Solar “welcomes any opportunity to continue a constructive approach to a dialogue” with the U.S. government, Trina Solar, China’s second-largest panel manufacturer, said today in an e-mailed statement.
Trina Solar “continues to see robust demand for its products,” it said. “The geographical diversification of the company’s business continues,” while sales from new and emerging markets continue to accelerate..
The case aims to close a loophole allegedly used by Chinese manufacturers since 2012, when Washington imposed tariffs on Chinese solar cells, the basic building blocks of a panel. Chinese companies evaded paying duties by assembling panels with cells made elsewhere, such as Taiwan, according to SolarWorld, whose U.S. unit filed the case in December. It alleges its Chinese competitors benefit illegally from government grants, free land, discounted loans and raw materials, and more.
“The tariff would not only hurt Chinese manufacturers, but also hamper the competitiveness” of solar power in the U.S. as the cost of power generation will rise, Sebastian Liu, investor relations director with JinkoSolar Holding Co., the best-performing Chinese solar manufacturer in the past year, said in a phone interview today. The company is discussing the situation with its lawyers, he said.
The U.S. is separately investigating allegations that Chinese and Taiwanese producers dumped solar products below cost. Its preliminary ruling is expected on July 25, according to Bloomberg BNA.
— With assistance by Helen Yuan, and Natalie Obiko Pearson