China Says U.S. Solar Ruling Will Hurt Clean Energy Development

China said a U.S. ruling that will trigger tariffs on solar panels imported from China and Taiwan will hurt both local manufacturers and American companies that buy them.

The U.S. International Trade Commission yesterday ruled that solar products imported from China and Taiwan harm manufacturers, the final step for imposing dumping and anti-subsidy duties on the imports. It’s part of a clean-energy trade dispute between the world’s largest economic powers.

The move threatens global development of renewables and will ultimately hurt U.S. companies that benefit from low-priced solar components, China’s commerce ministry said today in a statement on its website. China will protect its own interests in the framework of the World Trade Organization and through the U.S. justice system, it said.

SolarWorld AG, a Bonn-based company with a factory in Oregon, got the Commerce Department in 2012 to apply tariffs on solar cells from China. As a result, imports of panels with cells made in Taiwan boomed, and SolarWorld a year ago filed a second case saying Chinese makers had shifted production to skirt the controversial tariffs.

Tariffs will increase the price of solar power, said Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, which opposes the tariffs, in an e-mailed statement.

“More affordable solar energy creates more American solar jobs,” he said. “We continue to urge the governments of the U.S., China and Taiwan to negotiate a solution to the tariffs rather than erecting self-defeating barriers to global trade.”

Job Creation

The tariffs will help U.S. companies invest in factories and hire new workers, Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld, said in a statement. “American solar manufacturers have been doing their part” to boost U.S. employment.

Shayle Kann, an analyst at GTM Research in Boston, said the decision won’t have as much of an impact as the earlier ruling.

Duties on solar products are already set “prohibitively high,” he said in an interview.

“Virtually nobody is shipping any product in the U.S. that is subject to this second case,” he said. The finding “doesn’t actually change anything.”

The ITC panel voted 5-0 that imports from China were harming or may harm American manufacturers. The panel voted 4-1 on the Taiwanese imports.

The ITC panel decides only if U.S. makers are being harmed by the imported products. The Commerce Department had already set subsidy rates as high as 49.79 percent on imports from China, and dumping rates that averaged 52.13 percent for most importers for China.

The highest dumping rate was set at 165.04 percent. Taiwanese producers face duties ranging from 11.45 percent to 27.55 percent, the department said. With the ITC ruling, those duties will now kick in.

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