US: DOC asks customs to review Chinese PV imports

12. April 2013 | Trade cases, Markets & Trends | By:  Vera von Kreutzbruck

Chinese solar manufacturers are misreporting and underreporting their imports to evade new tariffs, according to the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM). It adds that the U.S. DOC has asked Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to review the claim.

US, China flags

The U.S. DOC reportedly sent the CBP a memorandum on April 9, stating that "evasion of the AD and CVD orders on Chinese solar cells may be occurring."

The association, comprised of around 240 solar installers and manufacturers, reports that the U.S. Department of Commerce (U.S. DOC) has asked CBP to "further review" photovoltaic imports from China and to implement "enforcement action if appropriate."

After conducting an analysis of a selection CBP data concerning anti-dumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders on Chinese solar cells, the DOC reportedly sent the CBP a memorandum on April 9, stating that "evasion of the AD and CVD orders on Chinese solar cells may be occurring."

Furthermore, CBP data suggest that "some importers may either be improperly declaring merchandise not to be subject to the AD/ CVD orders, or may be understating the value of the imported merchandise declared as subject to the relevant orders."

The U.S. DOC memo also states that as a result of the findings, Customs and Border Protection has initiated operations at various ports throughout the country, which "have resulted in the collection of additional significant cash deposits on merchandise subject to the AD/CVD orders."

"The U.S. solar industry and its workforce have suffered profound, sustained harm from China’s illegal trade practices. We alerted U.S. authorities and, over the course of 13-month investigations, we were proved right," said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., in a statement released.

"Now the Chinese producers and their importers are apparently trying to sidestep the application of these lawfully determined trade remedies. We applaud the government for being alert to this new phase of cheating," Brinsen added.

Neither the U.S. DOC nor the CBP could be reached for comment. 

Priority issue

As an agency spokesperson from the CBP told pv magazine on March 13, "Antidumping and countervailing duty enforcement is a priority trade issue for [our agency]; and, in partnership with the United States solar cell industry, [we are] actively enforcing the orders on solar cells from China. The AD/CVD duties that Customs and Borden Protection collects level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers of solar cells and panels to remedy the unfair trade from China."

He estimated that since last March, around $18 million has been collected in antidumping (AD) and CVD duties has been collected from Chinese companies.

The coalition won a trade case against China in November of 2012. As a result, the U.S. government set anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties at between 24 and 250% of import values. However, a legal loophole has enabled Chinese manufacturers to buy cells in Malaysia or Taiwan, produce modules at home, thus evading any consequences in the United States.

CASM appealed with the U.S. Court of International trade in February, challenging the USDOC’s November 2012 ruling that Chinese photovoltaic manufacturers may ship modules to the U.S. without incurring tariffs, if they use solar cells produced outside of China. CASM has fought for the inclusion of cells produced in third countries since the beginning of its campaign (link to news item. Search term Loophole).

To find out more, visit pv magazine’s Trade case feature.


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