Clean Power solar tariff china us

Published on March 20th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Chinese Solar Cells & Panels Get Low U.S. Tariff, & U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association Responds

March 20th, 2012 by  

solar tariff china us

Quite predictably, the U.S. Department of Commerce today announced that it has found that the Chinese government has awarded its solar companies subsidies that are too strong for international trade rules. However, they were essentially found to be much less in violation of trade rules than expected. Imported solar cells and solar panels from China will get hit with tariffs ranging from 2.9% to 4.37%, not nearly as large as many solar companies and analysts were predicting.

Investors actually starting pouring money back into leading Chinese solar companies after the announcement, since they had assumed the tariffs would be higher. Shares in some companies rose as much as 14%.

“Today’s preliminary determination by the Department of Commerce imposing low tariffs on imported solar cells and modules is a relatively positive outcome for the U.S. solar industry and its 100,000 employees,” said the leading opponent to the trade case, president of Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy Jigar Shah. “However, tariffs large or small will hurt American jobs and prolong our world’s reliance on fossil fuels. Fortunately, this decision will not significantly raise solar prices in the United States….”

If you’ve missed the whole back-story, a coalition of solar panel manufacturers led by SolarWorld filed the trade complaint, but a large number of U.S. solar installers and developers (led by Jigar Shah) were opposed to this challenge, since they feared it would raise the price of solar panels, which have dropped a ton in the past year.

The low tariffs find China guilty, of over-subsidizing its solar goods, but much less guilty than most presumed.

Note that the investigation isn’t complete and this is only a preliminary ruling.

Additionally, the Department of Commerce still needs to issue a ruling on a perhaps more serious matter of whether or not China was dumping solar products in the U.S. If found guilty of dumping, it can be expected that higher anti-dumping duties will be implemented.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Weighs In

SEIA has largely stayed out of discussions about the trade dispute. Logical, given that it represents installers, developers, AND manufacturers. It’s statement today stayed neutral about the decision, but unveiled some proactive efforts to tackle international trade issues. Here’s most of its statement:

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today announced a new initiative to facilitate global and regional dialogues on trade and competitiveness and the role of government in encouraging development of the global solar energy industry.

Over the past year, SEIA has held a series of dialogues with several leading national solar trade associations regarding potential collaboration on and resolution of trade issues before they result in action before trade remedy bodies.  SEIA is also collaborating with the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA) and other Asia-Pacific based trade associations on the development of a formal Solar Dialogue within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The initial goals of these dialogues are to:

  • Promote WTO-acceptable trade in solar energy goods, while taking into account the unique and important role of governments in the development of the solar energy industry;
  • Ensure that global innovation, scaling, and economic development occur; and
  • Create a collaborative framework for preventing trade conflict in the solar industry and resolving it constructively if conflict does arise.

The announcement came as the Department of Commerce (DOC) ruled to impose countervailing duties on the import of Chinese PV modules into the U.S. market.

“SEIA is supportive of a rules-based process for resolving trade disputes in the solar industry and the Department of Commerce’s investigation is certainly part of that process,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “It is important to note that this is a preliminary determination and the antidumping decision will be rendered in May. If the tariffs remain at these levels, we do not think that this will have a material impact on the U.S. market.”

Resch added, “But the trade action against Chinese imports is indicative of a growing trend of trade conflict in the global solar energy industry that threatens to curtail the rapid growth we have seen in this market – both in the U.S. and abroad. Governments and industry must recognize that while trade remedy proceedings such as antidumping and countervailing duty investigations are an important part of the global trade rules, so too are collaboration and negotiations. This is why SEIA is taking a proactive lead to create a dialogue with several leading national solar trade associations and governments from around the world.”

Solar panels & money image by shutterstock

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • electric38

    And the winner is….. the oil and gas billionaires (again). Raising gasoline prices while artificially keeping the price of rooftop solar panels for American consumers high, shows how effective a purchased political system is, at keeping the status quo in place.

  • kafantaris

    This is a stupid move.
    For all that matters, the Chinese can give us the solar panels for free. In the end, we are the ones who will get the benefit, since we are the ones who will end up the cheaper solar energy.
    Why are we fighting it then?
    Erecting barriers against cheap solar panels — no matter who makes them — directly translates to erecting barriers against cheap renewable energy.
    Imposing such obstacles at time of high energy prices is utter foolishness.

    • Stan

      Hi Kaf……….ya, this is the up/down facet of most trade between us and third world/suppressed population countries. But also on the same issue….it cuts jobs here, and sends more money out of the country….
      Capitalism, like any other single focus component of supplying the things we need for our people…has faults….they (the Chinese) being Communists……just rape and pillage….and THAT’S why this issue totally sucks….not just prices….who in THIS country would want to see their wife of grown children earning 1/10 of minimum wage, with no overtime, and working in a facility who put up suicide nets to keep the workers from jumping to their death to stop their abuse? (the company that mfg’s components for Apple and other smartphone companies) Stan

      • Bob_Wallace

        The Chinese are no longer Communists, i.e., a system of centrally controlled socialism.

        China’s system is now centrally controlled capitalism.

        “who in THIS country would want to see their wife of grown children earning 1/10 of minimum wage, with no overtime, and working in a facility who put up suicide nets to keep the workers from jumping to their death to stop their abuse?”

        Time to read some history. These are the sorts of conditions that we had in the US before workers organized and put some regulations on no-holds-barred capitalism.

        If you want to get a quick education as to what unregulated capitalism produces start by reading up on coal mining communities. You worked in the coal mine, you rented your house from the coal company, you spent your money at the coal company store, you lived a miserable life and never got ahead….

    • one of the main arguments is that, in the long run, artificially pricing other companies out of the market (without actually improving the tech) kills and stifles companies that are working to actually improve the tech and bring the price of solar down in the long term. it’s a hard call and i’m not pulled strongly in either direction, as i don’t feel i know the numbers well enough to say if CASM or CASE is right… in the long term.

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