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Solar panel makers say US tariff "unjust"

Updated: 2012-03-22 14:44


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BEIJING - Chinese solar panel makers on Wednesday voiced opposition against the latest US decision to impose new import duties on solar panels made in China, declaring that they are ready to act to protect their interests in the overseas market.

The decision has neglected the "real facts" of the production and export of Chinese solar panel products and was "unjust," according to a statement from the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME).

The US Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that a preliminary investigation found that Chinese solar panel makers had received government subsidies of 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent, and decided to levy the same amount of tariffs on Chinese imports.

The CCCME said the US anti-subsidy probe was mostly politically driven and against fundamental legal principles, as the United States Congress passed a bill earlier this month to empower the Department of Commerce to impose countervailing duties on imports from non-market economies.

Chinese solar panel makers are disappointed about the decision as it is not in line with international rules, and they hope the US administration and the Department of Commerce can keep a prudent attitude and obey international rules, said the CCCME statement.

"Chinese solar panel makers firmly believe that their commercial success resulted from fair competition rather than unfair trade practices and violations to WTO rules," said the statement.

The CCCME warned that imposing more duties on Chinese solar panel products will undermine the development of the global solar panel market, and it will do more harm than good to the US market.

Setting trade barriers on Chinese solar panel manufacturers will increase costs of the US solar power production and dampen the market, thus ruining the US government's plan to boost employment by expanding the solar power market, said the association.

The restriction will, in a short term, only benefit SolarWorld Industries America Inc, the US solar panel company that has led local complaints, but it will postpone the large-scale development of the US solar power industry by at least five years, said the CCCME.

Government subsidies are never the key competitive edge for Chinese solar panel products, said the CCCME, saying that their competitiveness lay in more advanced technologies, large-scale production, strong management and forward-looking strategies.

Chinese solar panel makers have received far less government support than their American and European competitors, and all Chinese government support is in line with WTO rules, it said.

SolarWorld has largely benefited from local government subsidies, according to the CCCME. The company has enjoyed tax breaks and public subsidies worth about $43 million for its new plant in Oregon in 2007. In 2010 and 2011, SolarWorld gained government subsidies in Europe worth 18.75 million euros and 45 million euros, respectively.

Chinese solar panel producers hope that the US government will correct their "unfair and unjust" practices in follow-up investigations, and they will protect their legitimate interests through legal means, said the CCCME.

Chen Zhuo, general counsel with China's leading solar panel provider Yingli Solar, said the new tariff will dent the profits of Chinese solar companies.

There are possibilities that the final ruling of the tariff rates will be further adjusted, and that anti-dumping tariffs usually are much heavier than those for anti-subsidy cases, he said.

The US Department of Commerce will announce the final decision on whether Chinese companies are dumping on May 17.


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