It’s a controversial issue that’s split the solar industry in the U.S.
However, thus far the ruling is one that doesn’t bridle supporters, led by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) and SolarWorld Industries America Inc. or detractors led by the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE).
In its finding the department levied small duties of 3.59 percent on all Chinese PV manufacturers, except Suntech, which face duties of 2.9 percent, and Trina Solar, which will face duties of 4.73 percent. The duties were imposed to counteract the impact of Chinese subsidies that CASM alleged were in violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) trade laws, according to CASM.
“It’s good to know that they agree with us that multiple diverse subsidies are illegal. But we don’t know a lot on this front,” said SolarWorld and CASM spokesperson Ben Santarris. “The numbers that came in were right in the midpoint of these types of cases.”
While they were in line with the midpoint, duties often change between the initial determination and the final ruling.
“It’s heartening that the commerce department found that at least 10 programs were illegal,” Santarris said.
Illegal subsidies included property, research and development, feedstock, tax incentives and brand promotion. He anticipated that more violations would be found as the department dug deeper and visited China to see up close and personal.
The low-level of duties were seen as a relatively good thing by CASE, since they will not raise PV costs by much, if anything.
But the decision to impose any tariff on solar resulting in higher PV costs, will hurt U.S. jobs, said CASE President Jigar Shah. The result shows that the commerce department did not find the level of subsidization as high as CASM and SolarWorld claimed.
For its part CASM saw the finding of export subsidies as critical circumstances as a big win. Under that the duties will be retroactive 90 days, which will cover imports as far back as December 2011. That will force the manufacturers to post bonds or cash deposits toward the value of the duties.