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US upholds high tariffs on solar panel imports

By Ariel Tung (China Daily)

08:04, October 12, 2012

The US Commerce Department has affirmed steep tariffs ranging from 18.32 percent to 249.96 percent on Chinese solar panel imports, finding that their production was made artificially cheap because of unfair subsidies from China's government, resulting in "dumping" in the US market.

For some of the Chinese companies, the anti-dumping tariffs are slightly lower than preliminary tariffs announced in May, but anti-subsidy duties imposed on these companies have more than tripled.

Wuxi-based Suntech Power was given a tariff of 31.73 percent, and Changzhou-based Trina Solar Energy received a tariff of 18.32 percent. Anti-subsidy duties of 14.78 to 15.97 percent were imposed on the Chinese producers.

Although the Commerce Department announced its final decision on Wednesday, the International Trade Commission is conducting its own investigations. If the ITC found that the Chinese manufacturers have not harmed the US solar-cell industry, it has the authority to reverse the ruling. It is expected to make its decision on or before Nov 23.

Some industry insiders said the tariffs could worsen already tense trade relations between China and the US.

"It will inevitably lead to a rhetorical rebuke from Beijing and a reminder that China is challenging US anti-subsidy policy at the World Trade Organization and in US courts," said White & Case international trade attorney Scott Lincicome, author of a new Cato Institute paper on US subsidy.

The tariffs ruling on China was brought on by SolarWorld Industries America Inc, a US subsidiary of German producer of photovoltaic cells and modules. Last October, SolarWorld filed a complaint to the Commerce Department, claiming that Chinese manufacturers were able to sell their goods cheaply using subsidies from their governments.

While making his case last week at a hearing conducted by the ITC in Washington, Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld's US business, claimed China's subsidies caused prices of photovoltaic cells and modules to fall sharply.

The company cannot compete "with the Chinese government or with the Chinese producers that fail to play by the rules", he told the commission.

Jigar Shah, president of Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), said it was "a bad decision" to impose anti-dumping duties. The coalition was formed last year by a group of US solar developers and installers to oppose the duties.

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