US probes China/Taiwan PV imports

The US Commerce Department says it has begun an anti-dumping duty investigation of imports of certain crystalline silicon PV products from China and Taiwan in response to a petition from SolarWorld Industries America.

It also initiated a countervailing duty probe on the same products from China.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) is scheduled to make its preliminary injury determinations on or before 14 February.

If the ITC determines that there is a reasonable indication that imports from China and/or Taiwan, materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry, the investigations will continue.

The Commerce Department then would make its preliminary determinations for a countervailing duty in March and an anti-dumping duty in June.

In November 2012, the ITC found that Chinese PV imports were injuring the US industry. It applied anti-dumping and countervailing duties on all China-origin crystalline silicon PV cells, modules, panels and laminates.

Solar World says it acted because producers in China and Taiwan were evading a 30% US import tariff by assembling modules from cells fabricated in third nations, which allows them to sell product here below cost and seize market share.

The ITC earlier did not apply duties on imported Chinese modules with cells made in third nations. This created a “loophole in trade remedies,” according to SolarWorld.

DOC says the new investigations do cover those products with existing duties.

According to the US Census Bureau, the US in 2012 imported $2.082bn of crystalline silicon PV products rom China, down from $3.12bn in 2011. Imports from Taiwan were $513.4m in 2012, about double $256.5m the previous year.

According to GTM Research, China has 73% of current global wafer capacity.