US sets new Chinese PV kit duties

US trade officials on Friday set new anti-dumping duties on certain imports of solar cells and panels from China and Taiwan, finding that manufacturers in those nations were selling here at prices below cost.

The preliminary move came in response to a complaint brought by the US subsidiary of Germany’s SolarWorld, which accuses Chinese companies of transferring production to Taiwan to avoid 2012 duties imposed by the US.

The US Commerce Department (DOC) imposed duties on imports of "crystalline silicon" Chinese solar products of between 10.74% on Trina Solar and 55.49% on those of Renesola. Imports from Wuxi Suntech were hit with a 14.03% penalty and 20.38% was placed on products from about 40 other firms.

DOC slapped a 165.04% duty on solar PV kits from an unnamed "China-wide entity" for failing to cooperate with its questionaires.

Preliminary duties of 27.59% were set on Taiwan's Gintech, 44.18% on Motech and 35.89% for all other producers/exporters in Taiwan.

In a separate decision last month, DOC imposed countervailing duties of about 19% to 35% on Chinese solar panel manufacturers after making a preliminary finding that they obtained an unfair competitive advantage from government subsidies.

In both cases, final rulings are expected later this year.

SolarWorld Industries America, which has the largest module factory in the US in Hillsboro, Oregon, hailed today's decision,

"We should not have to compete with dumped imports or the Chinese government. Today’s actions should help the US solar manufacturing industry to expand and innovate,”says company president Mukesh Dulani.

The Obama administration's action to further confront China's solar industry over its perceived refusal to compete fairly will likely ratchet trade tensions between two countries vying for global clean energy industry supremecy.

China has already slapped duties on imports of US solar-grade polysilicon.

"We strongly urge the US and Chinese governments to ‘freeze the playing field’ and focus all efforts on finding a negotiated solution,”says Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a US trade group.

"This continued, unnecessary litigation has already done serious damage, with even more likely to result as the investigations proceed,” he adds.