Solar Groups Fighting War Of Words Over Chinese Trade Complaint

Now that the U.S. Department of Commerce has voted to move forward with an investigation into possibly illegal trade practices by Chinese solar manufacturers, industry coalitions and organizations on both sides of the debate are ramping up their arguments and sharpening their criticisms of each other.

Global trade association Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) has waded into the debate for the first time, releasing a statement expressing ‘concern about the trade dispute's potential impact on U.S. solar industry growth and jobs.’

‘This case could lead to significant price increases that could have a significant deleterious impact on SEMI members, many of whom are upstream providers of high-value-added equipment and materials,’ the group stated.

Given what it sees as ‘potential harm’ of the trade conflict, SEMI encourages the process to proceed on a ‘factual basis’ and for companies involved to reach a ‘mutually acceptable accord that will serve the legitimate interest of all parties.’

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), which was launched earlier this month to oppose the trade complaint, sided with SEMI.

‘Let's put an end to this,’ said Jigar Shah, co-founder and chairman of the CASE, in a statement. ‘There are no winners in a trade war. Every day [that] we fight amongst ourselves, we lose credibility.’

However, the SolarWorld-led Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), which filed the anti-dumping complaint and countervailing-duty petition last month, reiterated its stance and took the CASE to task for what it believes is harmful dialogue.

‘Trade law investigations are not 'protectionism,' and to say so is inflammatory and diversionary,’ said Tim Brightbill, a partner at Washington, D.C.-law firm Wiley Rein and lead attorney on the case, in a statement. ‘When a country engages in anti-competitive practices that harm our industries, we have every right, even a duty, to respond with appropriate action.’Â Â

‘Are advocates of China's state-sponsored exports serious in suggesting that the U.S. environment and economy will suffer as a result of our coalition standing up for high-standard American manufacturing and jobs and standing against China's anti-competitive tactics?’ added Raju Yenamandra, vice president of sales and business development for SolarWorld, in a statement. ‘We have asked the U.S. government to investigate whether China's tactics are legal and, if so, to restore sustainable international competition.’

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