Ahead of the first meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, SolarWorld released a statement urging the two world leaders make China’s unfair solar trade policy a topic of conversation. The statement rebuked China’s “unfolding aggression” in implementing what it called unfair, even unlawful, trade practices to de-stabilize the US solar industry.
The company asserted that China has subsidized solar product manufacturing to more than three-times its domestic demand. That led to over-saturation of Chinese solar products across the globe, allowing China to control prices of solar panels and keeping those prices below production costs. At the same time, SolarWorld alleged, China is discouraging foreign investment and foreign solar manufacturing competition in its own market.
“China’s continued violation of international trade laws must be addressed,” said Juergen Stein, US president of SolarWorld. “We have used all legal means available to us since 2011 to right these wrongs. For the sake of the solar industry in the West, it is now time for stiffer, more concerted action.”
SolarWorld stated that this an ongoing Chinese practice. It recounted the US Commerce Department’s 2014 investigation into whether Chinese solar manufacturers attempted to avoid previously imposed duties by moving production facilities to Taiwan.
SolarWorld argued that China’s trade practices are affecting the solar manufacturing workforce. For instance, US based manufacturer, Suniva recently announced that it is going through the process of laying-off 59 employees at its Saginaw, MI, factory. The company also said that it will to lay-off an additional 131 workers at its Norcross, GA, production facility. Suniva cited “continued downward market pricing pressures” as the reason for the lay-offs and that the situation would affect employees in all areas of the company.
“The US and European markets are the industry’s seats of innovation. To see them undermined as a matter of policy of a foreign, non-market government is unacceptable. It’s too late for thousands of jobs that have been lost. But it’s not too late for this industry to return to creating breakthroughs and jobs,” added Stein.Tweet