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China Levies Tariffs on US, South Korean Polysilicon

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has formally decided to levy antidumping duties on imported solar-grade polysilicon from U.S. and Korean suppliers, turning up the heat yet again in the broader trade disputes simmering between several key markets for solar energy.

The antidumping tariffs, which are said to be effective starting July 24, range from 54-57 percent targeting nine U.S. suppliers and from 2-49 percent for 11 South Korean suppliers. (Here's a roughly Googlized translation of the China MOC announcement.) Here's how the antidumping tariffs lay out:

Credit: Chinese Ministry of Commerce

Not included in these polysilicon tariffs is any mention of European suppliers, which China had hinted at last fall. Reports had suggested China likely will avoid any such sanctions on European polysilicon as the two sides negotiate through the recently imposed penalties on Chinese solar imports. In a statement earlier this week, Chinese commerce ministry spokesperson Yao Jian reiterated that the MOC has laid the groundwork to pursue just such a case, but that "we’ve never changed our position that [the] solar PV trade dispute should be settled through negotiations," and that all sides "are actively endeavoring to consult with each other in hope of properly settling this case through price undertaking negotiations."

These new solar tariffs on U.S. polysilicon, though, were more anticipated as retaliation against last year's decision to impose antidumping and countervailing duties on Chinese solar cells and modules. China's GCL is the world's largest polysilicon supplier with strong government support -- even as rafts of other domestic producers are being quietly shuttered -- and these tariffs will likely deepen its domestic dominance to fuel China's massive solar energy goals.

Still, raising prices anywhere in the supply chain run counter to the solar sector's relentless march to lower costs. "There's no way that module manufacturers can tolerate a 57 percent increase in polysilicon price," emphasized Michael Parker, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.," quoted by Bloomberg.

Lead image: Business figure with money, via Shutterstock

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