Commerce calls for solar tariffs in SolarWorld-led dispute
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
A final decision from the U.S. Commerce Department on duties to be imposed on solar imports from China upholds the SolarWorld pursuit of what officials there call a level playing field for the industry.
As expected, the U.S. Commerce Department Wednesday reinforced its call for tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels in a ruling favored by SolarWorld's Hillsboro-based U.S. operation.
In the final determination, the Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration found that Chinese solar manufacturers have been dumping subsidized solar panels in the United States. To counteract that, the department is imposing duties of 31.73 percent on imports of photovoltaic cells and panels from Suntech and its affiliated companies, 18.32 percent from Trina Solar, 25.96 percent from other companies that had requested but not received individual duty determinations and 249.96 percent from all other Chinese producers, "including those controlled by the Chinese government."
Those rates were slightly higher than the original rates proposed by the department in the preliminary decision released in May.
Commerce officials did not take up the question of a loophole that would allow Chinese manufacturers to outsource a portion of production to another company but still ultimately export subsidized panels. That issue was raised by Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Democrats, in a letter signed by other lawmakers and sent to the department last month.
As Greentech Media reports, industry watchers don't expect the tariffs to ultimately have much impact on the price of solar panels in the United States and Greentech analyst Eric Wessoff is of the opinion that the tariffs are unlikely to help SolarWorld's financial situation.
"We don't have a predefined effect on pricing that we hope to see," said Ben Santarris, spokesman for SolarWorld. "We just want supply and demand to take its own course."
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