Wyden leads call to crack down on Chinese solar companies
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Sen. Ron Wyden (pictured) and Sen. Jeff Merkley continue to call for a stronger crackdown on cheap Chinese solar panels.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., led a group of eight members of the U.S. Congress in asking the U.S. Commerce Department to get tougher on Chinese solar manufacturers dodging enforcement designed to crack down on illegal trade practices.
The lawmakers sent a letter to the Commerce Department last week asking that a more comprehensive ruling be issued to prevent dumping of cheap Chinese solar panels that Wyden and others contend are flooding the market.
In its preliminary ruling issued in May, the Commerce Department called for tariffs on solar panels manufactured in China with Chinese materials on the grounds that subsidies provided by the Chinese government resulted in an unfair trade advantage.
Wyden, along with Oregon's other Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. and four other lawmakers, said some Chinese manufacturers were getting around the tariffs by outsourcing one step of the production process to another country.
"Congress intended to have the antidumping and countervailing duty laws provide relief to industries to that are materially injured by unfairly traded imports," the letter stated. "That purpose will be thwarted if foreign producers can simply outsource a small part of their production in third countries to avoid duties intended to level the playing field."
The letter follows two bills introduced by Wyden and Merkley on Sept. 21 that aim to prevent taxpayer money from going to foreign companies that benefit from illegal trade practices — including many Chinese-manufactured solar panels.
Oregon's Senators have been supportive throughout the campaign against cheap Chinese solar panels, kicked off by SolarWorld's U.S. headquarters in Hillsborough one year ago. Since that time, SolarWorld has continued to blame China for solar market woes, widening its complaint to the European Union.
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