(Adds impact on consumers)
By Krista Hughes
WASHINGTON, July 25 The United States on Friday
set new import duties on solar products from China and Taiwan
after the Commerce Department found that the solar panels and
cells are being sold too cheaply on the U.S. market.
Preliminary anti-dumping duties as high as 165.04 percent
for Chinese goods would come on top of anti-subsidy levies
imposed last month, as the U.S. arm of German solar manufacturer
SolarWorld AG seeks to close a loophole allowing
Chinese producers to sidestep duties imposed in 2012.
China's Trina Solar Ltd faces total import duties of
nearly 30 percent and Suntech Power nearly 50 percent
as a result of Friday's decision.
Taiwanese producers face anti-dumping duties of up to 44.18
percent, with the highest rate applying to Motech Industries Inc
, Commerce said. There will be no doubling-up of
duties with those from the 2012 case.
The new duties, which must still be confirmed, are likely to
inflame U.S.-China tensions already exacerbated by recent
accusations that Chinese military officers were cyber-spying on
U.S. companies involved in trade disputes, including SolarWorld.
SolarWorld said the new duties would average 47 percent for
most companies, compared with 31 percent in the 2012 case.
The company, which makes crystalline silicon solar panels in
Oregon, complained that Chinese manufacturers dodged those
duties by shifting production of the cells used to make their
panels to Taiwan.
"Today's actions should help the U.S. solar manufacturing
industry to expand and innovate," said SolarWorld Industries
America President Mukesh Dulani. "We should not have to compete
with dumped imports or the Chinese government."
But the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, which
represents mainly installers, said the duties would hinder the
deployment of clean energy by raising the prices of solar
products and hurting consumers.
The solar industry has been battered over the last four
years by a glut of products from China, falling prices and a
withdrawal of consumer subsidies in Europe, which has pressured
solar companies' margins and sparked a rash of trade cases.
India has slapped levies on panels from the United States
and China. The European Union also has targeted Chinese panels
and China has moved against imports of U.S. polysilicon, solar's
key raw material.
Meanwhile, the United States is challenging India's solar
program at the World Trade Organization. The WTO found
irregularities in the previous U.S.-China anti-subsidy case.
U.S. imports of solar products from China were worth $1.5
billion in 2013, half the level of 2011, while imports from
Taiwan more than doubled to $657 million over the period,
according to Commerce data.
Commerce will make its final decision by Dec. 15. The U.S.
International Trade Commission is due to make a decision on
whether the imports pose or threaten injury to U.S. producers by
(Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Paul Simao and Lisa