Solar War Update: China Fights Back
Germany’s SolarWorld lauched a U.S. anti-dumping trade claim against China in solar PV modules through SolarWorld America in October of last year. The firm was well within its corporate responsibility in its actions. SolarWorld has pressured for an anti-China trade claim to be made in Europe as well.
But trade claims and anti-dumping tariffs don’t always have clear and intended consequences.
In some cases, relatively innocent bystanders get bludgeoned by the blunt anti-tariff penalties. We’ve reported on two tiny American solar manufacturers whose businesses are in jeopardy because of retroactive tariffs on imported solar products.
Shyam Mehta’s and Carolyn Campbell’s analysis today shows that the anti-dumping and countervailing duty tariffs of 36 percent don’t impact the pricing of modules enough to meet parity with the (fairly priced?) SolarWorld panels. In Mehta’s words, “I have been skeptical from the outset that it will result in any real benefit for domestic module manufacturers.”
But the impact of anti-dumping rulings on American polysilicon firms, the makers of the feedstock upon which silicon solar panels are based, could be even more severe.
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) today said that it would look into anti-dumping and anti-subsidy claims on U.S. imported polysilicon, according to Reuters. According to the report, “The ministry issued the decisions in two statements on its website, citing preliminary evidence from several companies — GCL Poly-Energy Holdings, LDK Solar, and Daqo New Energy.”
The U.S. polysilicon manufacturers most likely to be affected by the ruling would be Hemlock, MEMC, and OCI as well as REC which has its polysilicon factory capacity in the U.S.. In 2010, the exports of these U.S. firms into China resulted in a positive solar trade balance for the U.S.
“On behalf of Dow Corning Corporation and Hemlock Semiconductor Group, I am disappointed that the United States and China have yet to negotiate a sustainable, mutually beneficial settlement to the global trade issues that have arisen in the solar industry. This review is part of a broader trade conflict extending far beyond the polysilicon and solar industries, as an escalating number of trade disputes have been initiated throughout the globe in the last 12 months. This issue is serious and could impact Hemlock Semiconductor’s ability to sell material to China — its largest market — if the Chinese government assesses duties against U.S. manufactured polysilicon sold into China.
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