As expected, the U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed another set of tariffs on solar photovoltaic modules imported to the U.S. from China and has also imposed such tariffs on imports from Taiwan for the first time.
In a decision announced July 25, Commerce will immediately impose anti-dumping (AD) duties ranging from 26.33% to 58.87% for China and 27.59% to 44.18% for Taiwan. Earlier in July, a panel of judges from the World Trade Organization ruled that U.S. AD and countervailing duty (CVD) measures were illegal and the methodology used to arrive at them was flawed. Commerce was unmoved by the ruling.
China-based Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. says the the preliminary AD decision by Commerce will subject it to a tariff of 42.33% on certain PV solar module imports. When combined with the previously announced preliminary CVD tariff, Yingli says the combined tariff rate on imported PV modules assembled in China, but containing cells manufactured in a third country from certain Chinese components, is 47.27%.
‘Unfortunately, this determination will increase the price of solar energy in America, severely jeopardizing the U.S. solar industry's tremendous progress in cost competitiveness and affordability when compared with traditional energy sources,’ says Robert Petrina, managing director of Yingli Green Energy Americas Inc. ‘While we have fully cooperated throughout this investigation and were prepared for this preliminary decision, we ask that our industry comes together to resolve this dispute and focus on the growth of the promising American market. We remain committed to the U.S. solar market and will continue to support our partners and projects.’
Tim Larrison, vice president at Yingli Green Energy Americas, told an audience at Intersolar North America in San Francisco that tariffs on Chinese solar cells are not only imposing additional costs on PV generation, but also squelching innovation by reducing research and development budgets and preventing new technologies from reaching key markets, particularly in the U.S.
‘The irrational behavior [on tariffs] has been shocking to me,’ Larrison said, especially given the volumes of PV products large Chinese manufacturers represent. ‘It's not a good idea to kill the supplier. You need your supplier for the 25 years of the warranty.’
Both the AD and CVD tariff determinations for all solar products covered by these petitions are preliminary and may be revised once the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) completes its investigation. The final AD and CVD determination is expected before the end of 2014 and the final ITC determination is expected in early 2015.
‘As a result of protectionist trade policies that raise prices and slow the deployment of solar power, we anticipate that significantly fewer people in the U.S. and globally will experience the long-term economic and environmental benefits of widespread solar adoption,’ says Liansheng Miao, chairman and CEO of Yingli Green Energy.
While many U.S. press outlets have supported Commerce on the tariffs – the New York Times referred to the decision as having ‘rebalanced’ the solar sector – representatives of the industry were less sanguine. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), immediately condemned the decision.
‘Enough is enough,’ Resch says, in a statement. ‘The Department of Commerce continues to rely on an overly broad scope definition for subject imports from China, adversely impacting both American consumers and the vast majority of the U.S. solar industry. We strongly urge the U.S. and Chinese governments to 'freeze the playing field' and focus all efforts on finding a negotiated solution. This continued, unnecessary litigation has already done serious damage, with even more likely to result as the investigations proceed.’