Solar producers fully prepared for US ruling

Updated: 2011-12-05 09:53

By Du Juan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Chinese photovoltaic (PV) solar companies are well-prepared for the preliminary ruling by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that these enterprises are harming the US industry.

Solar producers fully prepared for US ruling

Workers make solar cells that are to be exported at an energy company in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province.[Photo/China Daily]

"Now, it is just the beginning of the investigation," said Li Lei of Sidley Austin LLP, who is representing the China-based solar industry.

China's Ministry of Commerce expressed on Saturday its "deep concerns" over the preliminary ITC ruling, saying that the ruling was made without sufficient evidence showing the US solar industry has been harmed.

"The ITC made the decision regardless of defense opinions from Chinese solar companies and the related US industry, which shows the United States' strong tendency for trade protectionism," the ministry said in a statement.

It said the US should avoid abusing trade remedies, which will affect bilateral trade and cooperation in the new energy sector.

Li said the ministry's statement shows that the Chinese government is making an effort to protect domestic solar companies and the industry, which is a positive sign for the Chinese companies.

He told China Daily that because the requirements for being found to be "harming the industry" are low under US law, Chinese solar companies had expected this preliminary ruling from the very beginning.

SolarWorld Industries America and six other undisclosed companies filed a claim with the US Department of Commerce saying that Chinese companies were selling solar panels in the US at unfair discounts and receiving illegal government subsidies.

"For the Chinese companies, they don't need to change their planned schedule of defending the case," he said. "To keep on collecting the evidence and getting prepared for the field investigation in China by the Department of Commerce is what the companies are going to focus on next."

As international players in the global market, the domestic solar companies will adjust their business strategies and market expansion plans accordingly to reduce losses caused by the investigation, he said.

Fourteen Chinese solar panel producers, including Suntech Power Holdings Co and Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co, have decided to jointly raise a plea in response to the US probe.

The companies have said that their success in the US lies in having more advanced manufacturing technologies, efficient management and larger production scales.

Li Junfeng, secretary-general of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, said Chinese solar companies are part of the global solar production chain and have greatly contributed to its development, including creating thousands of jobs in US when many China-based companies have established factories there.

"If any tariffs are imposed on Chinese PV solar cell products, regardless of the amount, that would inflict huge damage on the industry because the Chinese solar panel industry heavily depends on the overseas market and profits are not high," he said.

Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang warned last month that the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation in the US could damage bilateral energy cooperation and impede the progress of global efforts to deal with climate change.

The ITC voted unanimously on Friday that there was a "reasonable indication" that Chinese solar cell imports have harmed or threatened to harm the US solar industry.

The Department of Commerce will make a final ruling on the anti-subsidy issue by November 2012 and an anti-dumping ruling no later than next July, according to Li.