China’s producers protest US duties on photovoltaic solar cells

producers on Thursday protested the United States’ latest decision to slash trade duties on solar energy products from China.

The decision will seriously harm the Chinese solar energy industry and exports of solar energy products to the US, said a statement issued by the Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME).

The duties will seriously damage the sustainability of the renewable energy industry in the two countries and across the world, the statement said.

Exports of solar batteries from China have not damaged the US crystalline silicon photovoltaic industry and their flagging prices are a result of global oversupply and price drops, the statement said.

The US decision will impact global crystalline silicon photovoltaic trade in a negative way, the statement said.

“We are disappointed at the protectionist decision made by the ITC (US International Trade Commission). It will reduce investment opportunities in the US solar energy sector and prevent high-tech and high-efficiency batteries from entering the US market,” said Gao Jifan, board chairman of Trina Solar, a leading solar module company.

“Although this ruling was anticipated, given the ITC’s low threshold for injury determinations, we are nevertheless disappointed that they have left the Commerce Department’s tariffs on solar cell imports in place,” said Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), a coalition of US solar companies.

Shah said the scope of the decision is limited to solar cells produced in China, thereby minimizing harm to the US solar industry.

However, “unilateral tariffs and a trade war in today’s interconnected global marketplace are unnecessary and detrimental to effective and efficient business competition,” Shah said.

The ITC on Wednesday gave the final approval for duties on solar energy products from China for the next five years.

The ruling has cleared the way for the US Commerce Department to issue anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules from China.

The Commerce Department determined in October that Chinese producers and exporters sold the products in the US market at dumping margins ranging from 18.32 percent to 249.96 percent, as well as received countervailable subsidies of 14.78 percent to 15.97 percent.

The ruling ended a probe that commenced on November 8, 2011 following a petition from SolarWorld, the largest US solar panel manufacturer. It accused Chinese competitors of selling solar cells and panels in the US at low prices through the use of government subsidies.