Solar manufacturers see flood of imports prior to trade ruling
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
SolarWorld and its coalition of U.S. solar manufacturers are asking for retroactive duties to be imposed on recent Chinese imports.
The SolarWorld-led Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing announced Wednesday that Chinese producers have more than doubled their imports of silicon solar cells and modules into the U.S. in recent months.
The coalition said that the bump — a 110 percent increase in import volume since July 2011, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data analyzed by the group — is proof of illegal dumping of subsidized cheap solar imports.
As part of its trade complaint, the coalition is asking the U.S. Department of Commerce to apply retroactive duties on Chinese imports.
“This significant increase in imports demonstrates that the Chinese know they have violated U.S. and international trade rules and are trying to evade the consequences,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., which is based in Hillsboro.
Timothy Brightbill, an attorney with Wiley Rein LLP, which is representing SolarWorld and the coalition in the case, told Bloomberg that imports from Suntech Power Holdings Co. and Trina Solar Ltd., two of the biggest China-based makers of crystalline silicon panels, have surged as the companies try to evade tariffs.
“The bottom line is there has been a huge surge at the end of the year, way out of proportion to demand, in an effort to beat the imposition of duties,” Brightbill told Bloomberg. “That’s why we’re urging Commerce to make what’s called a critical-circumstances finding and to impose the duties 90 days retroactively.” On Dec. 2, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued a preliminary determination in favor of the complaint against illegal Chinese subsidies.
The next step in the trade case will be a decision from the Department of Commerce on Feb. 13 about whether to levy import duties. On March 28, Commerce is scheduled to make its preliminary antidumping determination.
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