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BEIJING - Chinese solar product manufacturers have complained over a decision by the United States to impose heavy tariffs on China-made products, saying the ruling is typical of trade protectionism.
The management of Chinese solar giants including Yingli and LDK said on Thursday that the US ruling aimed to suppress China's solar industry, which exported solar cells valued at an estimated $3.1 billion to the United States last year, according to statistics from the US Commerce Department.
The final ruling by the Commerce Department on Wednesday local time levied anti-dumping duties ranging from 18.32 percent to 249.96 percent on billions of dollars of solar panels and cells from China.
Moreover, it set countervailing duties from 14.78 percent to 15.97 percent, complaining that Chinese rivals have enjoyed considerable government subsidies.
The latest ruling followed the Commerce Department's preliminary order on May 17, 2012 that anti-dumping tariffs be levied on all China-made solar cells.
"The decision will substantially raise costs of exporting products to the United States. Some companies may even give up that market," said Tong Xingxue, president and chief operating officer of LDK Solar Co, which is based in East China's Jiangxi province, the biggest solar cells producer in Asia.
China's solar panel industry has experienced increasing tension with US counterparts since last year, when the solar market ended a decade-long boom and began to slump due to a supply surplus worldwide.
Suffering from such an unfavorable market environment, LDK has been in the red since the second quarter of last year.
China's Ministry of Commerce on Thursday expressed strong dissatisfaction with the US ruling, saying it "signals protectionism" and "hinders the development of new energy."
Yingli Green Energy Holding Company, a globally leading solar panel producer based in the city of Baoding in Hebei Province, announced on Thursday that it would pay an additional 15.42-percent anti-dumping duty and 15.24 percent of countervailing duty when exporting homemade products to the United States based on the final US ruling.
The ruling will also hurt the world solar market, said Darren Thompson,general manager of Yingli's European subsidiary.
"Higher prices of solar products spurred by punitive tariffs will harm normal development of the industry all over the world," according to Thompson.
Liang Tian, Yingli's director of public relations, said the company's advantages in the international solar market include advanced production quality, steady technology improvement and stable client relations, all of which are results of fair competition instead of "dumping" products or enjoying government subsidies.
Chen Kangping, chief executive officer of leading PV producer JinkoSolar Holding Co, Ltd., said most solar companies in China are private entities without any illegal subsidy. The whole industry has been developing subject to market rules.
"Take our company for example. We obtained land fully in line with market price, and took bank loans at normal market interest rates, without any governmental subsidies," Chen said.
According to a statement issued by China's Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) on Thursday, the US Commerce Department set heavier punitive duties on China-made products when producers refused to disclose information beyond reasonable limits.
It was also unfair as the department only granted 17 days for the companies to respond to the investigation, the statement said.
It explained that the CCCME requests its right of defense and an opportunity to prove that Chinese solar exporters have not hurt US counterparts within the framework of the US International Trade Commission (ITC).
The ITC is responsible for gauging the impact of imports on the US market and suggesting reactions to unfair trade practices. Subject to American procedures, it will announce its final determination on Chinese solar panels by November 23.
If it affirms that the products have posed a threat to the United States, that country's Commerce Department will issue orders to impose anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties on China-made solar panels. If the result is negative, the investigation will be terminated.