China's new Five-Year Plan for its solar sector will increase the level of government control and financial support of solar manufacturing, while calling for higher levels of exports, according to a new analysis conducted by Wiley Rein and commissioned by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM).
The SolarWorld-led CASM, which filed an anti-dumping complaint and countervailing-duty petition against China last October, says that China's current solar production capacity is already 32 times greater than its domestic demand, and that approximately 95% of Chinese-manufactured solar products are exported.
The new Five-Year Plan calls for higher levels of production and more ‘internationalization’ of China's solar sector, according to the analysis. In order to support that production, the government plans to ramp up its financial backing, including providing more tax support and aiding with the development and production of manufacturing equipment.
The Chinese government is also expected to control several specific aspects of its PV industry – e.g., by setting levels for cost, environmental and power-conversion efficiency improvement. Specific ‘national champions’ will be identified and promoted globally, and thin-film PV – which is now relatively undeveloped in China – will receive a new focus.
‘China is steamrolling American manufacturing and jobs and breaking its trade commitments in plain sight,’ said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., in a statement. ‘No wonder the American public has grown increasingly anxious about the state of U.S.-China trade. China is scoffing at international trade rules.’
However, the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), which has vigorously disagreed with the CASM's view of the Chinese solar market and opposes the trade complaint, called SolarWorld ‘hypocritical.’
In an effort to stay competitive, SolarWorld has sold its PV modules below the cost of production, according to International Trade Commission (ITC) testimony and interviews cited by the CASE.
‘This aggressive pricing strategy is exactly what Germany-based SolarWorld accuses its China-based competitors of doing as part of petitions before the U.S. Department of Commerce's (DOC) anti-dumping investigation,’ the CASE said in a statement.
SolarWorld has also received ‘millions of dollars in subsidies,’ noted Jigar Shah, president of CASE, in a statement.
As the CASE and CASM continue to spar, the next date to watch in the ongoing ITC and DOC investigation into China's trade practices is May 17. On this date, the DOC is scheduled to make its preliminary determination on whether Chinese PV products were dumped on the U.S. market.