China imposes anti-dumping duties on US, South Korean polysilicon

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China’s Ministry of Commerce is set to impose import duties of as much as 57% on solar-grade polysilicon from the U.S. and South Korea.

The move is widely seen as a direct response to the U.S.’ decision in 2012 to impose duties of as much as 250% on Chinese PV modules after falling prices resulted in the bankruptcies of a number of U.S. manufacturers.

Beijing launched an investigation into alleged anti-dumping of the raw material by U.S. and South Korean producers last year.

The Chinese government had taken issue with the U.S.’ tax-exemption program for the "advanced-energy manufacturing industry," which is supported by the federal government as well as 15 states, and made it a focal point of the investigation.

The import duties are scheduled to go into effect on July 24. Chinese importers of American polysilicon will have to pay duties ranging from 53.3% to 57%, depending on the dumping margin, according to the Commerce Ministry. South Korean imports will face rates ranging from 2.4% to 48.7%.

Norwegian group Renewable Energy Corp.’s U.S. units and AE Polysilicon are among the hardest hit producers: REC Solar Grade Silicon and REC Advanced Silicon Materials will receive the highest rates of 57%, as will AE, according to Commerce Ministry information. Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. and MEMC (now known as SunEdison) face 53.3% and 53.7% rates, respectively.

While South Korea’s KCC Corp. and Korean Advanced Materials will also receive a high rate at 48.7%, the country’s OCI will see the lowest at 2.4%.

China appears to be specifically targeting solar-grade polysilicon. Electronic-grade polysilicon — used in manufacturing in the semiconductor industry as well as other electronic market segments such as optics and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) — is exempted from the new tariffs.

The move will certainly boost domestic polysilicon producers and likely lead to higher prices for the raw material in China.

China has spared European polysilicon producers (namely Germany) after Beijing and Berlin reached an agreement on the matter earlier this month.

China’s Commerce Ministry launched an investigation into European imports of solar grade polysilicon late last year, just weeks after the European Commission began its inquiry into alleged anti-dumping practices by Chinese manufacturers.

Chinese and EU negotiators have been working intensively this week in Brussels in an effort to reach a settlement on the ongoing trade dispute involving provisional European import duties on Chinese-manufactured photovoltaic products.

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