The announcements by the U.S. government to work against imports of subsidized Chinese modules have led to protests and petitions by the large Chinese manufacturers. On a provisional basis, it for now appears that a compromise has been found in this ongoing trade dispute. The counterveiling duties have fallen lower than expected to 5%, but the U.S. reserves a final decision on the not yet decided anti-dumping allegations for May.
The U.S.A. is now implementing counterveiling duties on solar products that are manufactured in China and imported into the U.S. A recently published statement states that the premiums, depending on the manufacturer, are fixed between 2.9% and 4.73%. The basis for this markup, according to the ministry, is the government subsidies of more than US$30 billion that Chinese manufacturers like Suntech Power, Trina Solar and other companies have already received. The ministry defends its decision by stating that this competitive advantage should remain balanced.
The basis for the amount of countervailing duties was determined in a study of 30 state funded programs from which the Chinese manufacturers benefited financially. The dispute was triggered by a law suit involving SolarWorld Industries Americas Inc, the U.S. subsidiary of German solar company SolarWorld. A final decision on the anti-dumping allegations by the Department of Commerce will be made in May or June, the current figures are, therefore, provisional.
The Department of Commerce has, however, lifted tariffs on all modules, laminates and panels that contain solar cells manufactured in China. Whether the products are imported from China or another country is irrelevant. Daniela Schrieber, Executive Vice President of the United States Hoerner Research and Consulting Corporation (HRCC), explains the loophole of this new regulation, “Since the duties cannot be not levied if the product is manufactured in China but the cells derive from another country, we can assume that there will be increased imports of cells from Taiwan into China in the future. This is only one strategy to react on these challenges.” Excluded from the compensation are also thin-film modules from amorphous silicon (a-Si), Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) and Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenium (CIGS).
Compensation Varies from Manufacturer to Manufacturer
The compensation in each case will depend on the level of demand on each company. Following the decision, Suntech Power will pay the least at 2.9%, Trina Solar, the most with 4.73%.All other companies will be charged 3.61%. The ministry will insist all importers pay compensation in this amount.
Many industry experts expected much higher tariffs. Ibolya Tarsoly, Senior Representative of the HRCC said, “In the run up to the decision, much higher levels of compensation were expected so the preliminary decisions for the Chinese manufactures should be manageable.” “It must be noted, however, that the US Dept. Of Commerce won’t be making the final decision until May or June. The payments could be even higher then.”
The American Association of Solar Energy Industries wants to place more emphasis on a dialogue between the governments and the industrial companies on a global level. This will allow the association to help avoid further possible escalations between different countries. From the Chinese side of things, an examination of six state-funded programs will be examined for unfair competition.
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