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US trade commission: Imported Chinese solar panels are hurting American solar manufacturers

December 2nd, 2011

Dec. 5, 2011 update: Chinese response to last week’s International Trade Commission ruling to investigate possible unfair trade practices in solar panel imports.

With Chinese officials upset by the ITC ruling, China.org charges that the U.S. is depriving its citizens of affordable solar panels that can help solve the climate crisis. From China.org.cn:

As nations are racking brains to reach an agreement on emission cuts at the ongoing global climate talks in Durban, the U.S. government’s protectionist attitudes toward China’s solar products could pull back the global green agenda by artificially charging green efforts with higher costs amid the world’s economic woes.

Despite fierce opposition from China’s government and “photovoltaic” (PV) industry, the U.S. federal trade panel on Friday unanimously voted to continue anti-dumping and countervailing probes on solar panels, the first such measure targeting new energy products. It also voted for a reasonable indication that U.S. producers have been harmed by the imports.

Such a conclusion, saliently under intensive pressure from a few interest groups, comes as expected, but it still betrays the insincerity of America, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, in pushing climate talks while being indifferent to cutting emissions in an affordable way.

China’s state-run paper China Daily reports that China’s Ministry of Commerce has “deep concerns” over the preliminary ITC ruling, saying that the ruling was made without sufficient evidence showing the US solar industry has been harmed.

From Green Right Now Reports

Dec. 2, 2011

The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed with SolarWorld Industries America that Chinese imports are hurting the U.S. solar manufacturing industry, and will continue to investigate this issue.

The commission announced its unanimous 6-member ruling on Friday, to the delight of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., which had petitioned for an inquiry into alleged Chinese dumping of solar panels and modules into the U.S. market.

“Dumping” refers to the practice of a nation or group flooding a market with less than fair-value products in an unfair effort to dominate that market.

SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer, and the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), which represents more than 150 employers of more 11,000 workers, contend that cheap Chinese imports have cost Americans at least 2,000 direct solar industry jobs, as well as an untallied number of subcontractor jobs.

SolarWorld and CASM leaders praised the ITC decision, which means that the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue to investigate the issue. If officials find that China has engaged in unfair trade practices, it could establish new tariffs.

“SolarWorld and countless other participants in the U.S. solar industry stand for sustainable production in the major markets where solar is sold, for healthy, international and sustainable competition, and for sustainable environmental practices in producing and deploying renewable energy,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc. in a statement.

“Conversely, nothing about China’s export campaign has proven to be sustainable, including its subsidized and dumped pricing,” Brinser said.

SolarWorld’s call for an investigation, announced during the Solar Power International conference in October, met with mixed reaction inside the industry.

Many solar rooftop retailers have relied on less expensive Chinese products to make solar installations more affordable to U.S. homeowners. Rooftop installers have argued that their business employs more people than the highly automated production of solar panels.

But critics of using Chinese imports say these products are not helping build the U.S. manufacturing base for all types of solar products, producing jobs and quality products over the long term.

Brinser argues that American consumers will benefit under “healthy global competition” within an industry that’s been driving down costs by 10 percent a year for several years.

“We  only ask for fair and legal competition, which is good for industry and consumers alike,” he said.


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