Solar Trade Case Update: US Triggers Penalties on China, Taiwan Solar Panels

Solar panels imported from China and Taiwan harm manufacturers, a U.S. trade panel ruled, a decision that will trigger tariffs on the renewable-energy components.

The U.S. International Trade Commission’s decision Wednesday is the final step for imposing dumping and anti-subsidy duties on the products. It’s part of a clean-energy trade dispute between the world’s largest economic powers.

SolarWorld AG, a Bonn-based company with a factory in Oregon, got the Commerce Department in 2012 to apply tariffs on solar cells from China. As a result, imports of panels with cells made in Taiwan boomed, and SolarWorld a year ago filed a second case saying Chinese makers had shifted production to skirt the controversial tariffs.

“American solar manufacturers have been doing their part” to boost U.S. employment, Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld, said in a statement. The tariffs will help them invest in factories and hire new workers.

Shayle Kann, an analyst at GTM Research in Boston, said the decision won’t have as much of an impact as the earlier ruling.

Duties on solar products are already set “prohibitively high,” he said in an interview.

“Virtually nobody is shipping any product in the U.S. that is subject to this second case,” he said. The finding “doesn’t actually change anything.”

Tariffs will increase the price of solar power, said Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for AffordableSolar Energy, which opposes the tariffs, in an e-mailed statement.

“More affordable solar energy creates more American solar jobs,” he said. “We continue to urge the governments of the U.S., China and Taiwan to negotiate a solution to the tariffs rather than erecting self-defeating barriers to global trade.”

Final Rates

The ITC panel voted 5-0 that imports from China were harming or may harm American manufacturers. The panel voted 4-1 on the Taiwanese imports.

The ITC panel decides only if U.S. makers are being harmed by the imported products. The Commerce Department had already set subsidy rates as high as 49.79 percent on imports from China, and dumping rates that averaged 52.13 percent for most importers for China.

The highest dumping rate was set at 165.04 percent. Taiwanese producers face duties ranging from 11.45 percent to 27.55 percent, the department said. With the ITC ruling, those duties will now kick in.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg

Lead image: Gavel via shutterstock

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