China duties for US, Korean poly

China has confirmed it will impose preliminary anti-dumping duties on polysilicon made in the US and South Korea and sold to Chinese PV manufacturers, while leaving European producers off the hook.

The tariffs will range from a slap-on-the-wrist 2.4% for Korea’s OCI to nearly 60% for Pennsylvania-based AE Polysilicon, with US companies generally faring worse than their Korean counterparts.

Hemlock Semiconductor and SunEdison (formerly known as MEMC) will pay 53.7% and 53.3% respectively.

China's ministry of commerce made no mention of EU-based producers in its announcement, dovetailing with reports from earlier this month that the EU would be excluded from the tariffs.

The timing of the decision is important, coming less than three weeks before the European Commission must decide whether to step up anti-dumping tariffs on China-made PV kit.

Last year the US imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese cells, and China’s polysilicon probe has been seen as a tit-for-tat response to that decision.

Nevertheless, many Europe-based polysilicon producers will not be spared pain. Norway-based REC produces all of its polysilicon in the western US, and Germany’s Wacker Chemie is building a factory in the state of Tennessee.

Shares of REC started the day up strongly on its announcement that it will split itself into two separate businesses. However, as news of China’s decision broke, REC shares fell sharply – trading down nearly 2% by early afternoon.

China’s ministry of commerce claims that an investigation has shown that domestic polysilicon producers have suffered “material damage” because of the alleged dumping practices of US and Korean suppliers.

Many Chinese PV manufacturers are known to oppose the duties, as much of the polysilicon produced in China is seen as being uncompetitive on cost and quality.