By John Engel -11.11.2021
The U.S. Dept. of Commerce has rejected an antidumping tariff petition brought by a group of anonymous domestic solar manufacturers against solar modules imported from three Southeast Asian countries.
Members of the American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (A-SMACC) claimed that Chinese crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules were being completed in Malaysia, Thailand, or Vietnam before being exported to the U.S., thus circumventing the antidumping duty and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders on crystalline silicon PV cells from China.
The Dept. of Commerce rejected the petition Wednesday, claiming A-SMACC’s refusal to identify its members limited the scope of the agency’s inquiry. The domestic manufacturers had claimed that identifying themselves could lead to retaliation by Chinese companies and government entities.
“Other interested parties with knowledge of the industry may wish to comment on A-SMACC’s preference for initiating the requested circumvention inquiries only with respect to certain companies located in the countries at issue,” Abdelali Elouaradia, director of AD/CVD operations within the Dept. of Commerce, wrote. “Any business relationships between A-SMACC’s members and companies that may have facilities in the countries at issue should not play a role in determining the companies covered by any circumvention proceedings.”
In a statement issued through a media relations firm, the A-SMACC said that the group could resubmit its petition to satisfy the concerns expressed by Commerce. The petition was rejected after A-SMACC refused to identify its members as part of the inquiry, citing fear of retaliation from Chinese government officials and companies.
“We are evaluating all options available to us under the trade remedy and other laws, including but not limited to refiling a petition satisfying the Commerce Department’s concerns,” A-SMACC members said in a statement. “We urge the Commerce Department and the Administration to also consider all options to address unfair trade in the solar energy sector, including but not limited to self-initiation of further circumvention actions and trade cases.
“Above all, we will not cede monopoly power to China and to Chinese-owned companies on solar products. U.S. solar manufacturing is recovering, and the future is bright, but we should not have to compete with the unfair trade practices of China and Chinese-owned companies.”
The Solar Energy Industries Association claimed the AD/CVD petition would result in a loss of 46,000 solar jobs over the next two years. Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the industry lobbying group, cheered Commerce’s decision.
“The petitions have already had a chilling effect on the industry’s supply chain, and if imposed, we would have seen massive project cancellations and job losses within days,” she said in a statement. “Today’s decision provides a rush of certainty for companies to keep their investments moving, hire more workers and deploy more clean energy. This is a critical time for climate progress, and we cannot afford to go backwards at a time when we need to be deploying more clean energy than ever.”
Solar developers had said that the proposed AD/CVD tariff, on top of the U.S. government’s enforcement of the Withhold Release Order on metallurgical-grade silicon from companies with facilities in China’s Xinjiang region, and the possible extension of the Section 201 tariffs on imported solar modules, threatened the Biden administration’s ambitious solar goals. A blueprint released by the Dept. of Energy in September called for 45% of the country’s electricity supply to come from solar by 2050.