Solar panel makers reject US complaints

Updated: 2011-11-30 09:58


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BEIJING - Fourteen Chinese solar panel producers on Tuesday jointly rejected anti-dumping and anti-subsidy complaints filed by some US manufacturers, calling for the US side to abandon "political and emotional interference" while conducting its investigation into Chinese solar firms.

"The success of China's photovoltaic (PV) industry in the US lies in the advantages it has gained through technological innovation and benefit of scale," Wang Guiqing, vice president of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, said on behalf of Chinese firms in a press release.

Upon an appeal filed by SolarWorld Industries America and six other undisclosed firms, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) said on Nov 8 that it would conduct an investigation to determine whether Chinese firms have been selling solar panels in the United States at unfair discounts and receiving illegal government subsidies.

The 14 PV companies, including Suntech Power and Yingli Green Energy, who have decided to jointly raise plea in response to US probe, also rejected allegations that they have been receiving illegal government subsidies.

Shi Zhengrong, CEO of Suntech, said China's PV industry has a cost advantage because Chinese PV firms have seized opportunities of rapidly developing industrial chain, technologies and production scales over the past ten years.

Citing published data indicating that SolarWorld received tax breaks and public subsidies of $43 million in the United States in one single project in 2007, and got 140 million euros ($186.69 million) of government aids in Europe, Shi said "none of Chinese PV firms has ever received such huge government subsidies."

On allegations that Chinese PV firms have benefited from subsidies through cheap land and loans, Qu Xiaohua, chairman of Canadian Solar,argued that his company got both land-use rights and loans at market prices.

If considering the factor of yuan's appreciation, the company's loan interest would stand at as much as 10 percent, according to Qu.

"We are not opposed to government's supporting policies. But we are opposed to the use of double standards by SolarWorld on this issue," Qu said.

Meanwhile, Wang noted that SolarWorld only draws support from six companies in the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), which represent only a small share of the US manufacturers.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC), which has the final say on whether any duties will be imposed, will examine the issue and vote on Dec 5 whether to proceed with the case.

The DOC will then make preliminary decisions regarding anti-subsidy and anti-dumping measures in January and February 2012, respectively.

Li Lei, senior lawyer of Sidley Austin LLP and the represent lawyer of China-based solar industries, said ITC is highly unlikely to come to "no harm" conclusions and terminate the investigation in its preliminary ruling.

"Any possible trade sanctions will seriously hinder the sustainable development of the Chinese and US green energy industries and greatly harm the interests of consumers," Wang Guiqing warned.

Wang said the probe is supported by a small group of petitioners led by SolarWorld and does not represent the entire US photovoltaic industry, adding that Chinese companies have no intention of initiating a trade war.