China’s solar energy industry protest against US anti-dumping ruling

Representatives from the Chinese solar industry yesterday expressed their displeasure at a preliminary decision by the US last week to impose anti-dumping duties against imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells from China.

"The US decision lacks fairness and distorts facts about China’s manufacturing and exports to the US," Shi Yonghong, vice president of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME), said at a press conference in Shanghai yesterday, on behalf of the country’s solar producers.

Four of China’s largest solar manufacturers – Suntech Power, Yingli Green Energy, Trina Solar and Canadian Solar – together with 17 other small and medium-sized solar companies, attended the conference.

Leading US solar manufacturers and the country’s Solar Energy Industries Association have also expressed opposition to the ruling, saying that it represents a setback for the government’s clean and renewable energy policy, Shi said.

He explained that the price advantage China’s solar industry has in overseas markets resulted from their concentrated development, first-class management and economies of scale, rather than low-price competition or dumping.

The Chinese firms involved said that they had actively cooperated with the US Department of Commerce (DOC) during the anti-dumping investigation, but that their rights had not been upheld.

"During the six-month investigation period, 150 of our employees were working hard to meet all the requirements from the US DOC. And after making so much effort, we are very disappointed with the result," Shi Zhengrong, chairman and CEO of Suntech Power, told reporters at the press conference yesterday.

On May 17, the US DOC announced its preliminary investigation decision to impose antidumping duties ranging from 31.14 percent to 249.96 percent on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells from China.

"China expresses its strong displeasure with the unfair decision, and the US is sending the world a negative signal about trade protectionism," Shen Danyang, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce, announced on May 18.

The final decision on whether to impose the duties is scheduled to be made in early October.

Industry insiders noted that the ruling would actually be detrimental for both countries.

Since cells produced outside the Chinese mainland are not covered by this investigation, some Chinese enterprises may turn to the Taiwan market for solar cells, which will increase their production costs. As a result, customers in the US will then have to pay more, said Gao Jifan, chairman and CEO of Changzhou Trina Solar.

"Many photovoltaic solar power projects in the US have already been suspended due to increased costs as a result of the investigation," Gao said.

There are also fears that after the US decision, other countries may follow suit.

"We’ve heard about possible anti-dumping cases in the EU and India, and we are prepared to face it," Miao Liansheng, chairman and CEO of Yingli Green Energy, said yesterday.