BEIJING, Sept 16 China said on Monday that it
would impose preliminary anti-subsidy duties on some imports of
U.S. solar-grade polysilicon, a move that could intensify trade
tensions between the world's two largest economies.
China's Commerce Ministry said it would hit U.S. imports of
the material used to make solar panels with relatively low
duties of up to 6.5 percent, amid trade frictions in the
struggling global solar industry.
That follows the ministry's much heftier anti-dumping duties
- used for goods sold below market value - of 53.3 to 57 percent
on U.S. polysilicon in July, a move which many saw as a bid to
protect China's struggling domestic industry. Washington called
those duties disappointing.
According to its investigation, "subsidies exist and China's
polysilicon industry suffered substantial harm", the ministry
said in a statement on its website.
Beginning on September 20, importers of polysilicon from
Hemlock Semiconductor Corp and AE Polysilicon Corp will have to
pay the duties.
The ministry said other companies, including REC Solar Grade
Silicon LCC, REC Advanced Silicon Materials LCC, and MEMC
Pasadena Inc., would not be subject to anti-subsidy duties
because they had not been subsidised or the rates were too low.
China has also locked horns with the European Union and
South Korea over the solar industry.
European companies accuse Chinese rivals of benefiting from
unfair state aid, allowing them to dump about 21 billion euros
($28 billion) worth of solar panels at below cost in Europe last
year, putting European firms out of business.
Europe planned to impose heavy tariffs on Chinese solar
panels but, wary of offending China's leaders and losing
business, a majority of EU governments - led by Germany -
opposed the plan, which led to the compromise deal in July.
EU governments must decide in December whether to back the
July price deal.
China's polysilicon sector, which has around 40 companies
employing 30,000 people and has received investment of 100
billion yuan ($16 billion), suffers from low quality and chronic
over-capacity as local governments poured in money to feed a
fast-growing solar panel industry.
Demand for solar panels has eased since the global financial
crisis, forcing governments worldwide to slash solar power
subsidies and leaving China sitting on idle capacity and
Of the 69,000 tonnes of solar-grade polysilicon China
consumed in January-June, 41,000 tonnes were imported, according
to industry data. China's solar panel makers prefer imported
polysilicon, which has a higher purity that helps in energy
conversion, company executives say.
Domestic business lobbies have been a major force pushing
the Commerce Ministry to curb polysilicon imports that exceeded
$2.1 billion in 2012.