US: Congress members urge PV trade case loophole to be closed

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In a letter addressed to Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary at the DOC, the 8 members, led by Oregon Senator, Ron Wyden state that the "absurd" fact China’s photovoltaic manufactures are able to manufacture crystals and wafers in China, then send them to a third country to be made into solar cells, which are then sent back to China to be incorporated into modules, appears to "undermine the intent of the petition", which was filed by a SolarWorld-led consortium last October.

"The Department of Commerce has preliminary defined the scope of the investigation in such a way that, we fear, could undermine trade remedy laws if applied in this and other cases," wrote the members. They added, "The Department’s preliminary determination would, from the outset, exclude from the scope of the investigation Chinese panels that are produced from non-Chinese cells, notwithstanding that China is alleged to subsidize the manufacture of these panels, and Chinese producers are alleged to be dumping these panels, in a manner that is causing injury to U.S. manufacturers."

The purpose of any imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws will be "thwarted" if Chinese manufacturers are allowed to circumnavigate tariffs in the aforementioned way, they continued, adding that they have heard of plans by Chinese manufacturers to ship wafers to Taiwan and South Korea to be made into solar cells, in order to avoid tariffs.

The letter concludes by urging DOC to consider the fact that China is seeking to "prevent progress" by initiating trade investigations of its own. "Such actions are clearly inconsistent with China’s obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization, as well as its responsibilities as a major stakeholder in the world trading system. We believe such irresponsible actions have no place in a trading system based on rule of law. China cannot seek to impede the exercise of the right under the WTO Agreement to conduct investigations of alleged unfair trading practices," they stated.

In May, the DOC announced preliminary dumping tariffs for China’s photovoltaic manufacturers. Wuxi Suntech and Trina Solar received preliminary dumping margins of 31.22 and 31.14%, respectively. Fifty-nine other China-based exporters each qualified for a separate rate of 31.18%. Meanwhile, the remainder of Chinese producers, who do business in the U.S. but did not participate in the case, received a cumulative preliminary dumping margin of 249.96%.

In Europe, an anti-dumping and countervailing complaint has been lodged with the European Commission. To date, it has launched an anti-dumping investigation.

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