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US panel okays China solar panel unfair trade probe
WASHINGTON Dec 2 (Reuters) - A U.S. trade panel on Friday approved an investigation into charges of unfair Chinese trade practices in the solar energy sector, setting the stage for possible steep U.S. duties.
The U.S. International Trade Commission voted 6-0 that there was a reasonable indication that SolarWorld Industries America and other U.S. producers have been harmed or are threatened with injury by the imports.
The vote allows the Commerce Department to continue an investigation that could lead to both countervailing and anti-dumping duties on solar cells and panels from China.
Countervailing duties are imposed to offset government subsidies, while anti-dumping duties are used to negate unfair pricing practices.
SolarWorld and its coalition partners have alleged Chinese producers are undercutting U.S. prices by as much as 250 percent.
A preliminary decision on countervailing duties could come as early as January, although Commerce can delay a decision until March if it needs more time to complete its investigation.
U.S. imports of the solar products from China totaled $1.5 billion in 2010, up from $640 million in 2009.
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