New Hampshire, USA -- The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted — unanimously — to move ahead in its investigation of Taiwanese imports of solar PV products, continuing the latest storyline in the broad U.S.-vs.-China solar trade war.
This latest and not unexpected move, which was spurred by a new petition at the end of December, seeks to close a loophole in the earlier trade ruling by which Chinese solar PV companies can circumvent tariffs by having cells made elsewhere before being reassembled for export.
The usual sides have redrawn familiar battle lines applauding and decrying the decision and continued pressure. SolarWorld America president Mukesh Dulani invoked the example of Oregon neighbor and semiconductor leader Intel as proof that U.S. manufacturing can succeed, "so please do not tell us that U.S. manufacturers who pioneered and built the solar industry cannot compete globally under conditions of fair trade." Jigar Shah, on behalf of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, points out that the dispute hits the U.S. solar industry heaviest in the installation end, jobs that aren't easily replaced.
In an interesting twist, Chinese companies Yingli and Hanwha have petitioned the U.S Department of Commerce to represent Taiwan solar PV interests. The initial investigation of China, which is not technically a market economy, presented challenges in obtaining and analyzing the country's solar PV participants chosen as examples. Taiwan, though, technically is a market economy, and the D.O.C. has more flexibility in whom and how it can choose to look at for specific numbers about production, costs, and sales. Taiwanese companies reportedly don't want to be represented by mainland Chinese solar PV interests, and have sought and reportedly obtained support from Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The I.T.C. will present its views to the DOC on Feb. 24; preliminary determination of countervailing duties are due on March 26, and an antidumping duty ruling is expected by the second week of June. A final ruling could take a full year to come down.
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