China Solar Trade War Analysis & Fact Sheet

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GTM Research recently provided a short analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) preliminary ruling on Chinese solar imports. Here’s the bulk of that post, followed by the DOC fact sheet on the ruling, also via GTM (click on the images and then click them again on the next page to enlarge, or hold down ‘ctrl’ or ‘command’ and click the ‘+’ key):

The following are the anti-dumping tariffs handed down in the ruling:

  • Suntech: 31.22 percent
  • Trina: 31.14 percent
  • Named Chinese firms: 31.18 percent
  • Firms that did not provide info to Dept. of Commerce: 249.96 percent

These anti-dumping tariffs will be compounded by the countervailing duties that the DOC levied on March 20. The countervailing duties are listed below:

  • Suntech: 2.90 percent
  • Trina: 4.73 percent
  • Everyone else: 3.59 percent

The following is a series of comments from GTM Research’s Senior Analyst, Shyam Mehta on how the tariffs will affect Chinese suppliers in the U.S.

  • “While the margins are not as high as those seen in many previous U.S.-China antidumping cases (electrical blankets, steel grating), they are certainly much higher than Chinese manufacturers would have hoped for,” said Mehta. “Stacked onto the margins for countervailing duties, they amount to levels of 35 percent to 36 percent, which is significant.”
  • “Keep in mind that this is a preliminary decision. We expect Chinese manufacturers and CASE representatives to contest the findings in the days ahead.”
  • “The margins were obviously driven in part by the Department of Commerce’s choice of the ‘proxy economy’ to estimate costs, as China is considered a ‘non-market economy.’”
  • “At these margins, China-based manufacturers would certainly have to raise U.S. prices to turn a profit. It is not feasible for them to maintain prices at tariff-free levels and still be profitable. In the short term, this is likely to lead to module price increases in the U.S. which would serve to dampen demand and installation growth. If the Chinese were to absorb the tariff, it would place their costs close to parity with many U.S.-based suppliers.”“However, Chinese firms are hardly likely to stand still. Broadly speaking, they have two strategies: set up cell manufacturing outside China, or use the tolling services of Taiwan-based suppliers to turn wafers into cells there, and then assemble the modules in China. Both strategies would allow the Chinese to bypass import tariffs. We estimate that tolling cells to Taiwanese firms would increase Chinese costs by 6 percent to 12 percent, which is meaningful but manageable.”
  • “Given this, we do expect that the decision will result in at least incremental investment in domestic manufacturing by Chinese firms. However, there are other, lower-cost manufacturing locations that these firms could set up manufacturing in, such as Mexico and Taiwan, for example that would still allow them to price their modules below that of U.S.-based suppliers. Therefore, we see the impact of this decision on U.S. manufacturing as positive, but spurring limited investment in the future and likely only temporary relief for existing U.S.-based suppliers.”


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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