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Chinese PV firms regret US duties

2014-06-06 08:02 Xinhua Web Editor: Qin Dexing

Chinese solar power companies have expressed regrets over new import duties the United States plans to levy on imported Chinese photovoltaic (PV) products.

Fan Zhenhua, legal director of Yingli Solar, the world's largest solar panel manufacturer, said: "The company regrets the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision to levy punitive duties disregarding Chinese firms' reasonable demands and opposition.

"The punitive anti-subsidy duties will not only affect Chinese firms' reasonable expansion in the U.S., but also have a negative effect on the development of the U.S. solar industry."

Yingli Solar, which is headquartered in the northern Chinese city of Baoding, will coordinate with the government and industry association to prepare an appeal against the duties, Fan said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce on Tuesday made its preliminary determination that it would levy anti-subsidy rates of 18.56 percent to 35.21 percent on Chinese producers and exporters of crystalline silicon photovoltaic products.

Punitive duties will be imposed after both the Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission made affirmative final rulings, which are scheduled on Aug. 18 and Oct. 3, respectively.

It was the second U.S. investigation against Chinese solar products after a similar one in 2012.

The investigation was made in response to the petition filed by SolarWorld Industries America Inc. based in Oregon, which alleged that Chinese PV products were sold below the fair value with the help of "improper" government subsidies.

Qu Xiaohua, chairman of Canadian Solar, said that Chinese solar firms have just walked out of a trough and once the punitive duties were levied, a large number of solar firms would go bankrupt.

For leading Chinese solar companies, the U.S. market accounts for a significant share of their global shipments and they could be badly affected, said Fan.

With the high duties, the companies could hardly maintain profit margins and competitive edge, said Fan, adding that the U.S. market accounts for one fifth of its global sales. Other countries and regions might follow suit by making similar moves and the global sales of Chinese solar firms could be badly hit.

Even if the U.S. and China agreed to a minimum price hike through negotiations like that with the EU, the struggling Chinese solar firms would still lose price competitiveness and be forced to retreat from the U.S. market. The U.S. accounts for one tenth of China's PV product exports.

China's Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday blasted the U.S. move as an abuse of trade remedy measures.

"U.S. restrictions on Chinese products are an abuse of trade remedy measures and have a clear hint of trade protectionism. They will certainly worsen the Sino-U.S. dispute in PV trade," said the statement.

Resorting to frequent punitive measures will not help solve the endogenous problems of the U.S. solar industry, added the ministry.

"China hopes the United States can be prudent in dealing with the probe and terminate the investigation procedure as soon as possible with a view to promoting healthy competition in the global solar industry," it said.

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