World Trade Organization (WTO) judges found today (July 14) that the United States violated global trade rules in 2012 when it implemented duties on Chinese-made solar panels. The rulings could change the cost of PV modules in the U.S., potentially bringing them down. But it is too early to know what the impact to the U.S. solar industry will be.
“We are continuing to follow developments closely, but today’s WTO decision is not expected to impact either the 2012 U.S. solar countervailing duty (CVD) order against China or any new CVD tied to the ongoing investigation until 2016, at the earliest,” observed Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President Rhone Resch. “It’s also important to remember that this decision is subject to an appeals process, which could take approximately 120 days. Assuming the decision is upheld on appeal, the United States would then have approximately one year to implement the decision. But even then, it’s not clear whether the decision will result in any substantive modification of a solar CVD order against China.”
The duties were imposed by the Securities and Exchange Council (SEC) and U.S. Trade Commission in response to a complaint from some U.S. companies led by SolarWorld Americas. The company alleged that Chinese solar panel makers were artificially dropping the price of their products in the market in an attempt to corner more of the market.
The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) said the ruling found the U.S. violated the U.S.’ commitment to WTO the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. It “recommended that the United States bring its measures into conformity with its obligations.”
“CASE agrees with the WTO that some important parts of the protectionist 2012 U.S. solar tariffs are inconsistent with our trade commitments to others. Even more importantly, they hurt American solar workers and slow the deployment of clean energy,” Shah said.
Prior to today’s WTO findings, the U.S. imposed new countervailing duties on Chinese PV, further clouding the issue and leading to likely price increases. “The American solar industry once again faces uncertainty and unnecessary price hikes due to a new round of legal actions at the Department of Commerce. June’s countervailing duty determination is increasing module prices by 14%, and the Department of Commerce may attempt to further hike rates and expand solar tariffs with a preliminary anti-dumping determination next week,” Shah said.Tweet