With a decision from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) expected this week on whether to impose tariffs on solar products imported from China, several companies – including Dow Corning, Hemlock Semiconductor, GT Advanced Technologies, MEMC, REC Silicon and Suntech America – have announced their opposition to the trade action.
The DOC's investigation was prompted by an October 2011 petition from SolarWorld and other members of the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), which claim that Chinese manufacturers have dumped their products on the U.S. market, to the detriment of U.S.-based solar manufacturing.
Since SolarWorld's petition, the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) has emerged to oppose SolarWorld and the CASM's actions.
According to the CASE, the companies now speaking out against SolarWorld's petition represent over 3,000 American jobs in every major region of the country, including states such as Arizona, California, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
‘We believe that the trade case brought against Chinese solar manufacturers by SolarWorld could undermine the solar industry's significant progress at the very moment it is poised for success,’ says Robert D. Hansen, president and CEO of Dow Corning (which is not a member of the CASE).
‘It's important to remember that no nation or industry 'wins' when trade disputes escalate – and in this case, we are concerned about serious unintended consequences such as local job loss and retaliatory tariffs against the U.S.,’ he adds.
‘Ultimately, the protectionism that SolarWorld is encouraging fosters dependence and high-cost business models, rather than the agile approaches that are most successful in global competition,’ agrees Tom Gutierrez, CEO of GT Advanced Technologies.
Tore Torvund, CEO of REC Silicon, says he is also ‘concerned about the increased likelihood that China will retaliate with their own unilateral tariffs on polysilicon exports from U.S. producers such as REC Silicon.’