CASE calls for US and Chinese governments to unite

CASE has joined the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) in asking the two governments to open a dialogue to prevent the anti-dumping trade case from turning into a "global trade war".

According to CASE, both China- and India-based companies are looking to instigate anti-subsidy and anti-dumping investigations against companies from other areas entering their markets. "Unless cooler heads prevail, American solar companies could face even more direct and collateral damage than the 30 percent tax imposed on many of them last month," said Jigar Shah, CASE president. "Already polysilicon companies in China are seeking retaliatory tariffs against US polysilicon manufacturers."

David B. Miller, president of DuPont Electronics and Communications, added, "It is important that trade be both free and fair, and important that countries resolve any trade disputes in ways that minimize disruptions in this important PV supply chain."

Back in May, SEIA issued a statement in which it called for a "mutually-satisfactory resolution" to the conflict. "The solar industry calls upon the U.S. and Chinese governments to immediately work together towards a mutually-satisfactory resolution of the growing trade conflict within the solar industry. While trade remedy proceedings are basic principles of the rules-based global trading system, so too are collaboration and negotiations," said president Rhone Resch.

Also in May, Bloomberg reported that China’s Ministry of Commerce had identified five U.S. states which have violated free-trade rules. Citing a statement released on the ministry’s website yesterday, May 24, the news agengy wrote that the Chinese body has identified renewable energy programs, including those for wind and solar, in the states of California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Ohio that reporetdly violate the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) policies and trade treaties. The ministry declined to elaborate, however.

Too late to have an impact

Lux Research Analyst Matt Feinstein has told pv magazine he believes that trade tariffs in the U.S. or Europe will have no effect in saving photovoltaic manufacturers. Feinstein explained that as China has prioritized the development of photovoltaic manufacturing for some time, tariffs cannot ‘hold back the tide’.

"The damage is already done from this particular strategy on the part of China," he stated. "We’ve seen that in the U.S. and frankly when you look at Europe, Q.Cells has filed for insolvency, REC has shut down a lot of manufacturing in the region, First Solar has shut down manufacturing in the region, so that’s largely by design with China’s strategy and their continuing strategy as per the last five-year plan."

In terms of the photovoltaic trade dispute moving to Europe, Feinstein said that the impact will be on the competitiveness of photovoltaics against other traditional energy and other renewables. "It’s going to bring the cost of the product up and that upfront capital cost is the primary determinate of the LCOE, which is how measure solar ‘apples-to-apples’ against other sources."