China sets final duties on U.S. solar materials

BEIJING (Reuters) - China hit the United States with final anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of solar-grade polysilicon on Monday, the latest move in what has been a contentious trade battle in the solar industry.

A worker inspects solar panels at a solar farm in Dunhuang, 950km (590 miles) northwest of Lanzhou, Gansu Province September 16, 2013. 26.REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The anti-dumping duties, announced by China’s Commerce Ministry, were in line with initial levels levied last year of up to 57 percent on imports of the raw material used to make solar panels.

Anti-subsidy duties on U.S. imports were set at 2.1 percent, lower than the upper limit 6.5 percent preliminary duties set in September.

The ministry also levied final anti-dumping duties on South Korean polysilicon of between 2.4 percent and 12.3 percent.

An investigation concluded that China’s producers “suffered substantial harm” due to the United States and South Korea selling below cost in the Chinese markets, and also due to U.S. subsidies, the ministry said in statements on its website.

The duties would be effective immediately and last five years, it said.

REC Solar Grade Silicon LLC and AE Polysilicon Corp were among the hardest hit with anti-dumping duties at 57 percent.

Washington had called previously announced duties disappointing, and many in the U.S. solar industry saw the move as an attempt to protect China’s struggling domestic firms.

The United States has already imposed its own duties of about 30 percent on Chinese solar panels in a case finalized in 2012.

China and the European Union have also soured their relations over solar industry disputes.

Europe had planned to impose heavy tariffs on Chinese solar panels but a majority of EU governments - led by Germany and wary of offending China’s leaders and losing business - opposed the plan and sealed a compromise deal in July.

Chinese solar equipment producers like LDK Solar Co Ltd LDK.N are struggling. China's State Council, or cabinet, has pledged to boost support as the government seeks to revive a sector struggling with overcapacity and falling prices.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie