ITC Hears Testimony on Expanded China Solar Dumping

Considering further retaliation against Chinese solar dumping, the U.S. Commerce Departments’s International Trade Commission today held hearings in Washington advancing the final phase of its countervailing duty and antidumping duty investigations. Since its imposition of preliminary anti-dumping and counterveiling duties ranging from 30 to 250 percent, Commerce has expanded the case’s scope to include any products assembled in China, regardless of where the bulk of manufacturing occurred, including Taiwan. Final comments to the ITC are due January 15, 2015.

Wiley Rein’s Timothy Brightbill, the petitioner in the case for SolarWorld and others, assessed the net impact of the dumping on the U.S. solar industry in January, suggesting that, “According to the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME)’s Secretary-General, ‘70 percent of the companies that export to the U.S. market are now using Taiwan-manufactured solar cells’ — [meaning that] solar firms face total eclipse in the United States.” Other petitioners in the case were Silicon Energy and PetersenDean.

Respondents in the case included Walter Spak, from White & Case and Richard Weiner, from Sidley Austin. Weiner represented the CCCME; Canadian Solar; Trina Solar; StrataSolar; SunEdison and Economic Consulting Services. Other opponents to the case included: John Smirnow, the vice president of Trade & Competitiveness at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA); tenKsolar, Neo Solar Power; Gintech Energy; Solartech Energy; Winaico and Moore Energy. 

Testifying on behalf of SolarWorld, Seth Kaplan, of Capital Trade, noted that 3,178 jobs in solar cell production have been lost as a result of the China solar dumping. The losses were reported as a result of plant shutdowns and/or bankruptcies. The figure included 1,831 jobs in multicrystaline cells encompassing losses at: Calisolar; Evergreen; Kyocera; MX Solar; Siliken USA; Solar Power Industries; Spectrawatt; and Sharp. The cumulative figure also included 588 jobs from monocrystaline producers encompassing losses at: Helios Solar, Sanyo, Schott Solar and Transform Solar. And the total also included 759 jobs lost to multi and mono producers BP Solar, Solar World and Solon.

On the other side of the issue, Paula Stern, ex-chairwoman of the ITC and the founder of the Stern Group, international trade advisors based in Washington, blogged in The Hill on December 5 that “The Commerce Department should wake up before it walks off a cliff and inserts fatal legal and trade policy flaws into its decision, sideswiping at least two American companies — Suniva Inc. and Hanwha Q CELLS USA (my firm represents Hanwha Q CELLS) — that make solar products outside of China.”

Stern warned that “Commerce’s novel expansion of the case would be an unprecedented departure from past practice, which could run afoul of U.S. commitments at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The move would also change the rules in the middle of the game for U.S. solar companies that had made business decisions according to decades of settled case law.” 

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA in July warned that “the worsening solar dispute between the United States and China threatens the future progress of solar energy in America.”

 

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Charles W. Thurston is a journalist who specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.

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