The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) on Sept. 23 offered an olive branch to Chinese photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers and the United States. The olive branch represents a proposed compromise between the U.S. and Chinese solar industries, where both parties would benefit.
Under the proposed agreement, which the SEIA said it developed while working behind the scenes in Washington and Beijing, both governments and solar industry representatives would negotiate a U.S.-China solar agreement. The agreement would be based on common goals and have a duration of at least five years, the SEIA said.
“This proposed settlement is a win all the way around,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “It would actually lower costs to Chinese manufacturers for the export of solar cells and modules to the United States, and it would improve U.S. manufacturers’ ability to compete fairly on an even playing field. It would also eliminate current and future litigation risks and costs for both Chinese and American companies. But just as importantly, the SEIA’s proposed settlement would benefit American consumers, as well as all consumers of solar energy, by holding down costs.”
Under a draft of the proposed settlement, the SEIA said that Chinese PV manufacturers would create a fund benefitting U.S. PV manufacturers, which would be funded through a percentage of the price premium Chinese PV companies now pay to third-country cell producers to subvert U.S. trade sanctions. Such a move would reduce costs and supply chain distortion for Chinese companies, the SEIA said. The draft agreement also calls on both countries to end their anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese PV imports and U.S. exports of polysilicon.
The organization warned against a settlement like the recent one between the European Union and China, as well. The SEIA said such an agreement would “represent a blow to the U.S. solar industry because of an expected increase in solar prices,” the solar advocacy organization stated. “SEIA also believes that any resolution of the U.S.-China solar dispute must recognize the interests of all stakeholders, including American consumers, and not just one segment of the industry.”
“While we are encouraged that negotiations to resolve the solar trade dispute are continuing in earnest, the discussions appear to be focused right now on a minimum price and/or quotas,” said John Smirnow, SEIA Vice President of Trade and Competitiveness. “This is a misguided approach. Any settlement which includes these components would represent a significant step backwards for the U.S. solar industry and the solar industry globally.”
Under the proposed agreement, the SEIA calls for the establishment of a Solar Development Institute funded by Chinese manufacturers. The institute would focus on expanding the U.S. solar market for American and Chinese companies and for growing the U.S. PV manufacturing base. The proposal is based on the resolution of a 2002 U.S.-Brazil trade dispute over U.S. subsidies on cotton. Under that settlement, the U.S. established a fund under which the country now pays about $150 million annually to Brazil’s cotton industry to avoid being punished by the WTO, explained the SEIA.