The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has issued a communique to its membership denouncing SolarWorld's recent anti-dumping suit against China. In no uncertain terms, SEIA says the legal action filed with the U.S. commerce department imperils the U.S. solar sector.
The document reads, ‘If imposed, the tariffs sought by SolarWorld, in excess of 165 percent for China and 75 percent for Taiwan, could result in a sharp increase in the cost of solar energy in the United States. Solar energy would then become less competitive with other energy sources like natural gas and wind, and the demand for solar would fall, resulting in a significant loss of jobs across the solar supply chain.’
In December, SolarWorld lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission as part of a long campaign against alleged unfair trade practices by China in the photovoltaic market. The suit charges that China is colluding with Taiwan to circumvent trade remedies the U.S. imposed a year ago.
SolarWorld's complaint obliges the commerce department to conduct an investigation into the allegations. Industry observers say the investigative process all but ensures that commerce will decide in SolarWorld's favor and that additional trade remedies should be imposed. This will inevitably result in retaliatory measures from China.
Bill Perry, a partner with the California-based international law firm Dorsey & Whitney, says SolarWorld's anti-dumping cases could end up shrinking the U.S. solar sector by 50% once the fur starts flying.
‘Throw a rock at China, and they will throw one back – or three,’ Perry says.
The concern that Commerce will rule that dumping has occurred – and Perry says it almost certainly will if the investigation comes to term – is driving organizations like SEIA to mobilize whatever political juice they have to forestall such a ruling, even to the point of providing informal legal advice to the Chinese and Taiwanese side.
In particular, SEIA is hoping to build support for a plan for a negotiated settlement it floated last September. To this end, the SEIA's federal policy committee has adopted the following policies with regard to the PV trade dispute with China:
- Publicly oppose SolarWorld's new trade petitions;
- Provide informal assistance to the respondents' defense counsel in the U.S. International Trade Commission's preliminary investigation;
- Continue to publicly oppose any effort to impose minimum prices and/or quotas on the U.S. market;
- Increase efforts to establish industry-led negotiations based on SEIA's settlement proposal;
- Build congressional support for SEIA's settlement proposal or an outcome that takes into account consumer interests and supports increased deployment of solar in the U.S.; and
- Tailor SEIA's public relations efforts to oppose any new litigation or responsive trade measures – whether in the U.S. or China – and elevate support for a negotiated settlement.