US solar trade coalition wins unanimous ITC ruling

The US International Trade Commission released a preliminary determination that dumped and subsidized solar imports from China have harmed the US domestic solar industry.

December 2, 2011 — The US International Trade Commission (ITC) released a preliminary determination that dumped and subsidized solar imports from China have harmed the US domestic solar industry.

In a unanimous 6-0 vote, the ITC found that Chinese imports are either materially injuring the domestic industry, or threaten the U.S. industry with such injury.  In its statement on the case, the US ITC said that, with this ruling, the U.S. Department of Commerce will “continue to conduct its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on imports of these products from China, with its preliminary countervailing duty determination due on or about January 12, 2012, and its preliminary antidumping duty determination due on or about March 22, 2012.”

?The ITC?s unanimous ruling underscores what American solar manufacturers have argued for months: Without any production cost advantage, dumping by Chinese solar manufacturers and massive subsidies by the Chinese government are enabling Chinese producers to drive out U.S. competition,? said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., solar manufacturer and leader of the petitioning party, The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM). ?Today?s ruling further erodes the credibility of denials by Chinese manufacturers and their importer allies in this case.?

Rival industry group the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), on the other hand, expressed concern about the ruling, saying that the trade dispute threatens American jobs. ?This trade dispute has already raised uncertainty and instability throughout the solar industry, deterring companies from hiring and investing further in America?s clean energy future,? said Jigar Shah, co-founder of CASE and founder of SunEdison.

CASE is advocating for SolarWorld and CASM to withdraw the trade complaint, and calls for solar industry leaders and politicians to speak out against the trade case, calling it a ?damaging dispute.?

The Commission’s public report Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells and Modules from China (Investigation Nos. 701-TA-481 and 731-TA-1190 (Preliminary), USITC Publication 4295, December 2011) will contain the views of the Commission and information developed during the investigation. It will be available after January 3, 2012, by email pubrequest@usitc.gov, phone: 202-205-2000, or writing to the Office of the Secretary, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may also be faxed to 202-205-2104. See the preliminary summary here.

CASM data: The Department of Energy estimates that last year alone, the Chinese government provided its manufacturers with over $30 billion in subsidies, including $7 billion alone to one company, Suntech. As a result, “US solar manufacturers have been forced to close or downsize their operations,” leading to the elimination of nearly 2,000 high-tech American jobs in multiple states and the disruption of communities and local businesses. Among the direct solar job losses were 800 jobs in Massachusetts, 117 in New York, 328 in Maryland, 266 in California and hundreds more in other states.

CASE data (provided by Kevin Lapidus, a CASE board member and SVP of Legal and Government Affairs at MEMC/SunEdison): The U.S. solar industry currently has 100,000 U.S. employees, up 6.8% from 2011 and forecast to grow, prior to the filing of the SolarWorld lawsuit, by an additional 30,000 jobs in 2012. The U.S. solar industry was a net exporter in 2010 in the amount of $1.9 billion, and is “one of the most vibrant US industries.”

Earlier today, 59 members of Congress wrote President Barack Obama expressing their support for the case.  Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee?s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, also has called for a thorough investigation of Chinese trade practices within the solar market. President Obama has also called China’s trade actions “questionable.”

The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) is made up of seven companies that manufacture solar cells and modules in the United States and more than 150 associated employers throughout all parts of the solar industry. For details about CASM, go to www.americansolarmanufacturing.org.

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) was formed in response to this anti-trade action filed by CASM. CASE members represent a large cross section of the US solar industry, including silicon and module manufacturers, project developers, financial and real estate services, and installers. More than 132 companies are represented by CASE members. Website: www.coalition4affordablesolar.org.

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