US Bumps Up Solar Duties On Chinese Companies

The puny countervailing duties that the U.S. Commerce Department ordered on Chinese solar imports apparently will be a little less puny.

Commerce Department is jacking up the duties, to 3.44 percent on Wuxi Suntech and 5.81 percent on Trina Solar, according to a public International Trade Administration memorandum [PDF] provided Monday by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, the group representing the companies that brought the trade complaint last October.

u.s. china solar trade dispute

image via Shutterstock

According to CASM, the rate for all other Chinese solar companies would also increase, since the “all-others” rate is a weighted average of the Trina and Suntech rates.

The original determination by the Commerce Department in the trade dispute over crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules from China set a preliminary countervailing duty of 2.90 percent for Suntech, with Trina Solar at 4.73 percent and all others at 3.61 percent.

The countervailing duty, while inching up slightly – and CASM said the could go higher as the Commerce Department continues probing the Chinese companies on the ground this week – pales compared to the anti-dumping duties of around 31 percent announced against Trina and Suntech last month, and up to nearly 250 percent on other manufacturers.

CASM suggested there’s more alleged funny business to be found.

“Import duties imposed under U.S. and world trade laws are not calculated to punish importers for illegal trade practices,” Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America and the leader of CASM, said in a statement Monday.

“Instead, they are meant as a remedy to offset the unfair advantage that those illegal practices provide. Commerce’s preliminary determinations of import duty margins are steps in the right direction, but they do not yet reflect all of China’s improper and unfair practices. In that light, we appreciate and applaud both today’s announcement and the unrelenting work that investigators have yet to do.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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