The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) determined that a U.S. industry is materially injured due to imports of certain cystalline silicon photovoltaic products (solar cells) from China and Taiwan. This affirmative final injury determination, made January 21, 2015, effectively imposes the AD and CVD duties assessed in the Department of Commerce (Commerce) affirmative final AD and CVD determination, which was made December 16. 2014. The USITC final injury determination was the final step in a controversial and extensive investigation which has been at the forefront of U.S.-China trade relations and a major point of contention within the solar power industry.
As a result of the Commerce and USITC final determinations, antidumping margins ranging from from 26.71 percent to 165.04 percent will be imposed on imports of solar cells from China. In the China AD investigation, mandatory respondents Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Company (Trina Solar) and Renesola Jiangsu Ltd./Jinko Solar Co. (Renesola/Jinko) received final dumping margins of 26.71 percent and 78.42 percent, respectively. Forty three other Chinese exporters qualified for a separate rate of 52.13 percent. All other Chinese solar cell producers/exporters are classified in the China-wide entity and were found to have not fully cooperated with the investigation due to failure to respond to Commerce’s questionnaires and therefore were assessed a final dumping margin of 165.04 percent.
The AD duties on solar cells from Taiwan will range from 11.45 percent to 27.55 percent.
In addition, the final determinations will impose CVD margins ranging from 27.64 percent to 49.79 percent on solar cells from China to counteract the countervailable subsidies found to be provided by the Chinese government. Mandatory respondent Trina Solar received a final subsidy rate of 49.79 percent and mandatory respondent Wuxi Suntech Power Co., Ltd. received final subsidy rate of 27.64 percent. All other Chinese producers/exporters received a final subsidy rate of 38.72 percent. A primary factor in assessing the CVD duties was that the Government of China failed to respond completely to certain questions. Therefore, Commerce applied “adverse facts available” in determining that certain subsidy programs were countervailable.
The scope of the investigations covered “crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including building integrated materials.” However, solar cells already covered by the existing AD and CVD orders on solar cells from China are excluded.
The investigations and imposition of AD and CVD duties have divided the solar energy industry. On one side is the petitioner for these investigations, solar cell manufacturer SolarWorld Americas, which believes the duties will allow the U.S. solar industry to grow and create new clean energy jobs. In October 2014, SolarWorld announced it would be expanding its’ Hillsboro Oregon plant’s capacity by 100 MW and adding 200 jobs at the location. Conversely, domestic and foreign entities in the solar industry have criticized the investigations. The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, an anti-protectionist solar industry group, stated the imposition of AD and CVD duties will raise solar cell prices, be detrimental to job creation at all levels of the solar industry and the imposition of duties is in direct opposition to the pledges recently made by the U.S. and China to work together to curb global warming.
In 2013, imports of solar cells from China and Taiwan were valued at $1.5 billion and $656.8 million, respectively. The high value of solar cell imports and growth of the solar industry put this issue at the crux of U.S.- China trade relations.