Chinese PV companies "avow" to fight only those behind SolarWorld's trade petition

01. December 2011 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends, Trade cases | By:  Becky Stuart

In the latest development of the U.S.-China trade dispute, the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) has issued a statement on behalf of the country’s photovoltaic companies. In it, it said there is "no intention" of starting a trade war, but that the Chinese solar companies will fight those who have petitioned against them.

Suntech's Zhengrong Shi

Suntech's Shi was one of the many participants at the press conference held on Tuesday.

The statement was issued on the back of a press conference, held in response to the anti-dumping and countervailing investigation in the U.S., in Beijing, on Tuesday, November 29. At the conference, China’s top solar companies gathered together to defend their business interests. Among them was photovoltaic module manufacturer Suntech’s Zhengrong Shi, Yingli’s Miao Liansheng, Trina’s Gao Jifan, and Canadian Solar’s Shawn Qu.

In the statement which followed, CCCME posited that the SolarWorld-led petition is a "distortion of the current situation of China-based PV industries and their export of PV products to the U.S." It added, "Any trade restrictive measures that may be imposed will unavoidably cause serious impairment to the sustainable development of the green energy industries as well as consumer's interests both in China and the U.S."

It further laid out six arguments, which it has used to defend its position. These are:

1. A free international PV market is crucial to the cause of global environmental protection
Here CCCME cited the "global understandings" laid out at the 2004 Bonn Conference, which include exploring and utilizing renewable energy as a means toward achieving economic development and poverty alleviation.

2. Chinese PV industries are an important component of the global PV industry chain and have made tremendous contribution to the development of the U.S. and global PV industries
CCCME argued under this point that China has been "tremendous" global driving force in decreasing photovoltaic costs and has helped to "make the goal of grid parity a real possibility". It also highlighted the R&D efforts undertaken by Chinese companies, and the fact that many of the raw materials required for solar are imported from China into the U.S. and Europe.

3. Growth of Chinese PV product exports to the U.S. results from competitive advantages on the market, not dumping or subsidies
Increasing import numbers from China to the U.S are said to reflect the fact that the country’s products are well-received in the U.S. due to their competitive market advantages.

4. Chinese export of PV products to the U.S. does not cause injury to U.S. domestic industry
CCCME argued that falling photovoltaic cell and module prices in the U.S. are due to lower polysilicon prices, on the back of global oversupply. It also attributed such factors as thin film competition, and financial incentives to declining prices.
"Even if some European and U.S. PV companies, such as SolarWorld, are underperforming in some aspects, such underperformance has nothing to do with the exports of Chinese PV companies, but instead is because of their misjudgment of the growth opportunities in the market … These frustrated companies should revisit and adjust their own business strategies, elevate their production and management levels, and meet the consumer's demand in a better way," it went on to assert.

5. U.S. PV industries strongly oppose the petition by SolarWorld
The unnamed petitioners were slammed under this point for not identifying themselves, while SolarWorld was accused of not being an indigenous U.S. company. "U.S. PV industries have greatly benefited from Chinese PV cell and module exports to the U.S., and therefore strongly oppose the petition by SolarWorld," said CCCME, adding, "Chinese PV companies herby avow that their fight in the investigations is directed against the few petitioners led by SolarWorld only, not the entire U.S. PV industry."

6. Chinese PV companies take confidence in vigorously defending themselves in the investigations
CCCME said China can view the petition as a positive sign of its competitive strength, since the investigation is being launched now, and not a few years ago, when the country was only involved in exporting "small" volumes of solar products.
It added, "The underlying reason for the commercial success of Chinese PV companies in the U.S. is their competitive advantages on the market, not low-price dumping or government subsidies."

SolarWorld singled out

Not surprisingly, as the leader of the petition, SolarWorld was specifically targeted in the CCCME statement.

In retaliation to the claim that China’s solar companies have received "illegal subsidies", CCCME wrote, "Incomplete statistics show that SolarWorld received tax breaks and public subsidies worth of USD 43 million in the U.S. in one single new facility project in Oregon in 2007, and received governmental aids in the amount of 73.15 million Euro, 18.75 million Euro and 45 million Euro in the EU in 2003, 2010 and 2011 respectively."

It added, "There is no evidence that the petitioner, SolarWorld, has suffered any injuries. On the contrary, it has been making profits and expanding capacities, outputs and sales. SolarWorld reported profitability in 2010, and achieved robust growth in the first half of 2011. SolarWorld's lay-off of employees in its California facilities was due to its relocation of facilities to Hillsboro, Oregon in response to the incentives provided by the Oregon State Government. The Q3 financial report of SolarWorld indicates that its employment in the U.S. grew by 11 percent in 2011."

In conclusion, CCCME said that the success of China’s solar industry rests on fair competition. As such, it will "vigorously" defend itself against allegations of unfair competition practices.


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