SolarWorld refutes White House involvement in US-China trade dispute

The White House has not become involved in the U.S.-China solar trade dispute, currently casting a shadow over the U.S. solar industry.

SolarWorld, one of the instigators of the dispute, has told pv magazine that while it has been working with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the company reports it has not been approached by the White House.

SolarWorld’s comments refute rumors that executive level intervention had been made in the dispute in an effort to reach a negotiated solution.

The manufacturer, with operations in Germany and the U.S., does not rule out reaching a negotiated solution to the dispute, which threatens to raise module prices in the U.S. by approximately 15% to 20%. However the conditions SolarWorld places on a possible negotiated outcome leave little hope for one being reached.

"SolarWorld has regularly said that it would be interested in meaningful talks about a negotiated solution, be it a suspension agreement or another type of settlement, if two conditions are met," said Timothy Brightbill, SolarWorld’s legal council in the matter. "First, any agreement or negotiated solution must eliminate China’s unfair trade practices. Second, it must be enforceable."

Brightbill said that Chinese manufacturers had not yet "embrace[d] these core conditions." He added that the result of the European Union-China agreement "hardly inspires confidence."

While a minimum price for Chinese PV modules has been agreed on in the EU, in June, SolarWorld was part of an action that saw a number of accusations of price breaches raised.

SEIA pushes SolarWorld for a "specific proposal"

SolarWorld’s comments to pv magazine come on the same day that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) urged the company to put a specific proposal on the table in order to facilitate negotiations.

"Continued litigation is bad for the industry and, we believe, bad for SolarWorld. SEIA’s settlement proposal remains the best path forward. But we will not preclude any settlement option that serves the greater interests of the U.S. solar industry," wrote SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch in a letter to the company.