In this corner we have U.S.-based solar installers, developers and some manufacturers and in this corner we have other U.S.-based solar manufacturers—both are on different sides of the U.S. Commerce Department’s final ruling on whether Chinese companies were dumping photovoltaic (PV) modules on the U.S. market.
Ultimately the Commerce Department implemented anti-dumping duty tariffs of 52.13 percent and anti-subsidy tariffs of 38.72 percent on most Chinese solar panel imports and anti-dumping rates of 19.50 on Chinese panels partly manufactured in Taiwan. The tariffs are set to take effect as soon as February 2015. Detractors of the ruling, which include the Solar Energy Industries Association, argue the ruling could increase solar costs and cost U.S. jobs.
The complaint alleged that Chinese PV manufacturers were selling their solar panels at lower prices in an attempt to gain market share and reduce competition—it’s a long-running controversial issue. The Commerce Department responded by imposing preliminary tariffs on Chinese imports and on Dec. 16 it finalized its ruling on tariffs—also closing a loophole that allowed Chinese companies to manufacture PV party in other countries, mainly Taiwan, to avoid paying the tariffs.
The original complaint came from Oregon-based SolarWorld USA, which launched the Coalition for Solar Manufacturing (CASM) to support tariffs on these imports. “These remedies come just in time to enable the domestic industry to return to conditions of fair trade,” said Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld. “The tariffs and scope set the stage for companies to create new jobs and build or expand factories on U.S. soil,” he contended.
SIEA, on the other hand, was less optimistic of the ruling. “Today’s ill-advised and unprecedented decision will harm many and benefit few,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “We remain steadfast in our opposition because of the adverse impact punitive tariffs will have on the future progress of America’s solar energy industry. It’s time to end this costly dispute, and we’ll continue to do our part to help find a win-win solution.”
Rhone’s sentiment was echoed by the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE). “Today’s decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to further tax solar panels from China, even those with key components made in the U.S., will undercut the growth of American solar jobs, hurt the American solar industry and make it more difficult for solar technology to compete against fossil fuels. These unnecessary taxes inhibit competition and put upward pressure on solar panel prices needed by U.S. homeowners, installers, and utilities.
“Taxing solar trade undermines both the spirit and efficacy of pledges made by the U.S. and China to work together in the battle against global warming,” said CASE President Jigar Shaw. “Hundreds of megawatts of solar projects remain unrealized due to deleterious solar trade barriers in the U.S., China, Europe and globally. Eliminating taxes in cleantech trade represents the lowest-hanging fruit in the global fight against climate change.” Indeed, some U.S. companies like First Solar have numerous projects in China that haven’t made progress they could have had the tariffs not been in place.
Both SEIA and CASE are arguing that U.S. and China should continue to work together and negotiate in an attempt to reduce dumping and preserve competition in the solar industry across the world.Tweet