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ITC: Chinese solar imports harm U.S. industry

On December 2, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) decided that Chinese PV imports materially injure U.S. firms, giving the Department of Commerce the green light to continue its own investigation.

Photo Credit: Jianan Yu, Reuters

According to a statement from the ITC, the panel of six unanimously agreed that “a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules from China that are allegedly subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.”

The decision comes in response to an October petition alleging unfair trade practices by Chinese PV firms filed by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM).

In light of the ITC decision the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. The countervailing duty decision is due in January, 2012, and the antidumping decision will be issued in March.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a key supporter of the investigation, said the decision “formalizes what workers in the American solar industry already know: they are harmed by unfair trade practices employed by China.”

“Today’s ruling further erodes the credibility of denials by Chinese manufacturers and their importer allies in this case,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the firm leading CASM.

“Without any production cost advantage, dumping by Chinese solar manufacturers and massive subsidies by the Chinese government are enabling Chinese producers to drive out U.S. competition,” he said.

China: Ruling demonstrates U.S. “inclination to trade protectionism”

In a statement released December 3, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce criticized the ITC ruling for leaning toward trade protectionism and ignoring the widespread opposition to the CASM filing.

“The ruling was made without sufficient evidence showing U.S. solar panel industry has been harmed and ignored defences from Chinese firms as well as opposition from the U.S. domestic industries and other stakeholders,” the ministry said.

The ministry also called for the U.S. to “objectively analyse why some of its solar panel firms lack competitiveness.”

Senators Urge Obama to Act

The ITC decision came just hours after 59 Democratic congressmen sent a letter to President Obama urging a swift response to China’s own investigation into U.S. government support for clean technology industries.

Led by Senator Wyden and Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and Sander Levin (D-MI), the letter requested the President take “all available measures to expeditiously investigate these allegations and take swift and appropriate action.”

Aside from ensuring China fulfills World Trade Organization obligations, the congressmen also called for extensions of government programs that have supported the clean energy industries throughout the recession.

The congressmen emphasized the need “to ensure a level playing field for American businesses and workers, not just in the solar arena but for all clean energy technologies.”

“U.S. manufacturers and workers in the clean energy technology sectors are at a major competitive disadvantage as a result of these and other foreign government measures,” they wrote.


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