China Takes Aim At US Solar Polysilicon Imports

A coalition of U.S.-based companies, under the banner Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing and led by the U.S. unit of Germany-based SolarWorld, says China is largely to blame for the carnage. The Commerce Department, responding to complaints the group filed last October, has backed the claims of unfair practices.

CASM head Gordon Brinser, fromSolarWorld, on Friday called the polysilicon investigation “a common Chinese tactic and an abuse of international trade rules.”

solarworld trade

image via Wikimedia Commons

“It represents yet another cynical attempt by the Chinese government to bully the U.S. government by injecting politics into a judicial investigation that is sanctioned under international trade rules, as today’s announcement tacitly confirms,” Brinser said in a statement. “Fortunately, when the Chinese government has attempted such blatant retaliatory actions, its actions have been declared illegal by the World Trade Organization.

But that push to punish the Chinese has split the U.S. industry, with installers and others in the solar supply chain, organized as the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, fearful that duties will crimp the ongoing solar boom. That group reacted quite differently to China’s announcement.

“Looking at the preliminary tariffs set in the U.S. it’s clear that the free flow of solar goods is already disrupted, prices are increasing, jobs are being eliminated, and businesses are adversely impacted at every level of the global solar industry,” CASE President Jigar Shah said in a statement. “We urge all countries to avoid unilateral actions that impede trade and resolve conflicts in a bilateral or multilateral context. Specifically, we urge the U.S. and China to rise above SolarWorld’s selfish action and engage in productive dialogue to prevent this destructive trade war. Lowering, not artificially raising, the cost of solar should be a global goal.”

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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