US v China PV trade dispute becomes war of words

The US v China PV trade dispute has had rival coalitions, cries of protectionism, accusations of diversionary tactics, and now, arguments over the meaning of trade association SEMI’s position on the trade allegations.

November 18, 2011 — The US v China PV trade dispute started in late October and since then, companies on both sides have fired shots across the bow. In response to the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM – seven US manufacturers of crystalline silicon solar cells and panels led by SolarWorld), a group called The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE –  representing 25 organizations led by Jigar Shah) formed. Since then there have been cries of protectionism, accusations of diversionary tactics, and now, arguments over the meaning of trade association SEMI’s position on the trade allegations.

CASM contends that a news release issued by the Chinese importers on Nov. 15 cherry-picked quotations from SEMI’s statement (read SEMI’s statement here), inaccurately implying that the association has taken a position against the SolarWorld-led coalition?s trade case alleging illegal Chinese trading practices.

CASM then presented its own quotation from SEMI?s statement: the association ?has long advocated for a strong, effective and enforceable rules-based international trading system that promotes free and open trade with all parties acting in line with their commitments. This allows companies to compete on the basis of quality, technology and service within a predictable system according to rules that governments have negotiated in bilateral, regional and multilateral settings.? CASM contends that SEMI has adopted a neutral position, and endorses SEMI’s support for US employers, the WTO, and CASM member rights.

?We are eager to debate the Chinese importers on the facts of our petition,? said Ben Santarris, SolarWorld?s head of corporate communications and sustainability for the Americas.  ?However, when the importers deliberately mislead the public about nonprofit groups? positions, you have to wonder whether anything they say can be taken with any degree of credulity.?

The next step in the SolarWorld case will be a Dec. 2 vote by the U.S. International Trade Commission on whether subsidized Chinese exports have harmed the domestic industry.  If it finds in favor of the CASM petition, the first possible determination on ?critical circumstances? could come as soon as Jan. 12, meaning importers of record could later be required to deposit estimated duties on imports back to this past Oct. 14. The Commerce Department determined Nov. 9 that the petition had support from companies producing more than half of U.S. output and the case raised enough concern to warrant intensive federal investigation.

More details:
SolarWorld files complaint against Chinese panelmakers, cell manufacturers
SEIA: US can compete given “an even playing field”
China’s Ministry of Commerce statement
US solar cell makers fire back: China’s “gutting” us
US Dept of Commerce initiates US-China solar investigation
US-China trade spat poses dilemma for China’s small solar firms
China’s solar orgs: Make it an open market, stop slamming us
CASM: More than 75 employers register support

Obama weighs in on SolarWorld’s China allegations
US Sen. Wyden: “China is not playing by the rules”
MA rep Markey: “Manchurian manipulation must end”
Ohio Sen. Brown pledges support

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