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US Imposes 31% Duty on Chinese Solar Panels

The US government has imposed tariffs of around 30 percent on solar panels imported from China, sparking charges of “trade protectionism” from Chinese government officials and increasing friction between the two countries.

The US Commerce Department ruled yesterday in favor of American companies that charged Chinese exporters had illegally “dumped” their solar panels on the US market below fair market price.

Commerce officials will continue their investigations in the trade cases, and are scheduled to release final determinations in July, although that decision will likely be postponed until late September. The International Trade Commission will issue its final determination on whether the US solar manufacturing industry was harmed by Chinese trade practices later this fall.

A China Commerce Ministry spokesman, Shen Danyang, called the most recent ruling “unfair,” and warned it might impinge on clean energy cooperation between the US and China, the Washington Post reports.

While Danyang didn’t provide any specifics as to how China will respond to the tariff, Chinese officials previously threatened to impose trade duties on US shipments of polysilicon if the US ruled against the Chinese solar companies, according to Reuters.

Under yesterday’s decision, Trina Solar and Suntech face a 31.14 percent and 31.18 percent duty on their exports, respectively; the rest of the Chinese export market faces a 249.96 percent tariff, according to the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, an industry group led by SolarWorld.

Following the ruling, Mark Kingsley, chief commercial officer of Trina Solar called the tariffs “unwarranted” and an “impediment to the broader adoption of solar energy in a time of rising fuel costs.”

Some American manufacturers applauded the decision and called it a victory. Helios Solar Works CEO Steve Ostrenga said it will help determine whether the US will be a part of global competition in the sector, or simply outsource its clean technologies to China, and said the decision was “critically important for thousands of US workers.”

In October 2011, SolarWorld, along with Helios and five other solar manufacturers, filed anti-dumping and countervailing duty petitions with the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission. In March, Commerce issued its preliminary decision on the countervailing duty petition, placing tariffs of between 2.9 percent and 4.7 percent on the imported photovoltaic cells.

Picture credit: SolarWorld

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3 thoughts on “US Imposes 31% Duty on Chinese Solar Panels

  1. Dangerous game on a slippery slope. US is waving their big stick, but these days, the strick is more like a willow branch and oak!

  2. This is really unfortunate. Our company, Small Steps Solar, imports small, high quality LED solar lights with a 1.5 watt solar panel. These are manufactured by Barefoot Power, an Australian company with a factory in China. We sell these lights to folks in the US who lack electricity — especially on Native American reservations. Even though our solar panel is tiny we have to pay this tariff. With this tariff, we can’t do business. Those who suffer most are our customers who remain burning kerosene. The next kerosene burn victims from lamps that tip over can thank Solar World.

  3. Update — we were charged a tariff of 249.96%. The tariff was retroactive: our product cleared customs on March 15. Department of Commerce made their preliminary determination (including retroactive 250% tariff) on 26 March. And we received a bill for $23.5K in July. Ironically, the solar cells in our product are made in Germany to the best of our knowledge. But because they are made from recycled, broken (German) solar cells it may be difficult to meet the stringent “country of origin” requirements in the ruling.

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