US anti-dumping inquiry creates friction

Updated: 2014-02-18 01:22

By YAO JING in Beijing and AMY HE in New York (China Daily)

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No bright side to trade investigation into solar panel exports from China

The anti-dumping investigation conducted by the United States International Trade Commission against Chinese solar-energy products is hindering the process of solving the trade dispute, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Monday.

"The US International Trade Commission has not realized that the two countries’ solar industries are tightly linked. US solar imports from China have created great commercial benefits and job opportunities for the US," said an official from the Bureau of Fair Trade for Imports and Exports at the Ministry of Commerce.

The investigation is regarded as a further move in imposing restrictions on China’s exports of solar products into the US after the US Commerce Department imposed tariffs of 29.18 percent to 254.66 percent on Chinese solar panels in December 2012.

"Since May 2013, China and the US have held several rounds of negotiations to resolve the solar dispute. The path has been tough. Right now, we hope the US will undertake the investigation fairly and objectively and also avoid trade protection," said the official.

Meanwhile, the official said that the ministry will organize related solar companies to prepare for a legal defense in terms of potential industrial injury in the face of allegations of dumping and subsidies.

"The drive behind the US anti-dumping investigation is a kind of trade protectionism against a background of fierce competition in the new energy industry between the two countries," said Wang Li, an analyst at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a government think tank.

Because the scope of the investigation includes crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, almost spreading to all categories of crystalline silicon photovoltaic products, the trade dispute between the two countries will extend across more cases, involve more money and occur more frequently, according to Wang.

The US International Trade Commission said on Friday it will proceed with its investigation of solar energy products imported from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan because there is a "reasonable indication’’ the imports are hurting the domestic solar industry.

If the commission determines the imports "threaten material injury" to US producers, the US Commerce Department will reveal its preliminary countervailing duty decision by late March and its anti-dumping duty determination by June.

The US arm of German solar panel maker SolarWorld, based in Hillsboro, Oregon, filed a complaint with the US Commerce Department in December.

It accused the Chinese mainland of flooding the US with cheap products because the country shifted production of certain solar panel parts to Taiwan to avoid various trade duties.

SolarWorld’s Chief Executive Officer Frank Asbeck wrote in a note at the beginning of the month: "China is improperly seizing control of an industry that the United States invented."

Addressed to President Barack Obama — who spoke about the US solar industry in this year’s State of the Union address — Asbeck said China driving down its prices has "hurt and bankrupted dozens of well-run US solar manufacturers and cost the jobs of thousands of US employees".

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