The U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday announced an affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty investigation of solar panel imports, whether or not assembled into modules or solar cells, from China.
Dumping occurs when a foreign company sells a product in the United States at less than fair value.
Commerce imposed preliminary duty margins of 31.14 percent for Trina, 31.22 percent for Suntech, 31.18 percent for others and 249.96 percent for China-wide. The department will instruct Customs and Border Protection to require a cash deposit or bond based on these preliminary rates, applicable to all entries of Chinese solar cells made up to 90 days before the date of publication of the preliminary determination notice in the Federal Register
On Oct. 19, 2011, SolarWorld Industries America, with the support of six other solar manufacturers including Helios Solar Works, based in Milwaukee, and MX Solar USA, located in Somerset, N.J., filed anti-dumping and countervailing duty petitions with Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. The petitions alleged Chinese manufacturers were illegally dumping solar cells and panels in the U.S. market and receiving billions in World Trade Organization-illegal subsidies. Commerce issued its preliminary decision on the countervailing duty petition on March 17.
"The verdict is in," said Gordon Brinser, president of Oregon-based SolarWorld and founding member of the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM). "In addition to its preliminary finding that Chinese solar companies were on the receiving end of at least 10 WTO-illegal subsidies, Commerce has now confirmed that Chinese manufacturers are guilty of illegally dumping solar cells and panels in the U.S. market."
In 2011, U.S. imports of solar cells from China were valued at $3.1 billion.
Merchandise covered by the Commerce investigation is currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff System of the United States (HTSUS) under subheadings 8501.61.0000, 8507.20.80, 8541.40.6020, 8541.40.6030, and 8501.31.8000.
Commerce is scheduled to make its final determination in early October 2012.
If Commerce makes an affirmative final determination, and the ITC makes an affirmative final determination that imports of solar cells from China materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry, Commerce will issue an antidumping order. The ITC will make its final injury determination on or before Nov. 19.
The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) warned that Commerce’s preliminary determination will only heighten trade tensions between the United States and China. It also threatens to drive up solar panel costs for American consumers.
“The global market for solar cells and modules is more competitive than ever, and companies around the world, including SolarWorld, have been forced to cut prices to compete,” said Jigar Shah, CASE’s president, in a statement. “Ultimately, free global competition is good for American consumers and American workers. That’s why all of the major segments of the American solar industry, including solar manufacturers, have united to oppose SolarWorld’s reckless and hypocritical campaign to raise solar prices.”