US manufacturers see higher China solar duties ahead

The US Commerce Department, which has announced preliminary ‘countervailing’ duties of less than 5%, is expected to impose a bigger set of ‘anti-dumping’ duties in May. Moreover, it also plans to probe several alleged Chinese programmes not covered by the decision. Final countervailing duties announced could therefore be significantly higher.

US solar panel manufacturers are optimistic of winning substantial duties on solar panel imports from China, despite a surprisingly low initial US government ruling.
The US Commerce Department, which has announced preliminary ‘countervailing’ duties of less than 5%, is expected to impose a bigger set of ‘anti-dumping’ duties in May. Moreover, it also plans to probe several alleged Chinese programmes not covered by the decision. Final countervailing duties announced for June could therefore be significantly higher.
President Barack Obama, who visited the US’ largest photovoltaic plant in mid-March, has made promotion of renewable energy and cracking down on unfair Chinese trade practices two major themes of his re-election campaign.
The US industry group requested anti-dumping duties of more than 100% to offset alleged unfair pricing practices, as well as additional unspecified countervailing duties to offset alleged government subsidies in its petition filed in 2011.
The US Commerce Department set preliminary countervailing duties of 2.90% on SunTech Power Holdings, the world’s biggest producer of photovoltaic solar panels, and 4.73% on Trina Solar, another major Chinese producer.
Remaining Chinese solar panel producers and exports received a preliminary rate of 3.59%.
The announcement surprised industry analysts who expected the Obama administration to set the preliminary countervailing duties up to 20% to 30%.
It also boosted the stock prices of Chinese companies targeted in the US industry case.