The U.S. Department of Commerce announced its preliminary decision to impose anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules in a percentage ranging from 31.14 percent to 249.96 percent (depending on which company makes them). The decision is a result of Commerce’s preliminary determination in an investigation of sales at less than fair value by Chinese PV cell and module manufacturers.

Specifically, preliminary dumping margin rates were distributed as follows:  Wuxi Suntech received a 31.22 percent margin, Trina Solar a 31.14 percent margin, and an additional 59 named Chinese PV producers will face a 31.18 percent margin. Other Chinese PV producers will face a 249.96 percent preliminary margin. These duties will be added to the countervailing duties (CVD) anti-subsidy tariffs of 2.90 percent to 4.73 percent that Commerce imposed in March.

The investigation focused on whether Chinese manufacturers sold PV cells and modules in the United States at less than fair value in order to win market share. The anti-dumping duties are retroactive to 90 days before the publication of this ruling because Commerce found that a major increase in imports occurred ahead of the possible imposition of duties. As a result, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will collect a cash deposit or bond from importers of Chinese PV equipment based on these preliminary rates, applicable to all entries of Chinese solar cells made up to 90 days prior to the date of publication of the preliminary determination notice. Deposit or bond posting obligations would continue until a final anti-dumping duties decision is issued. Commerce is currently scheduled to make its final determination in early October 2012.

This decision has broad implications for international trade, renewable energy, and U.S. manufacturing. The decision comes at a time when a U.S. legislative measure is being proposed to add a domestic content requirement to solar panels sold in the United States in order to make it more difficult for firms selling Chinese-made solar panels to qualify for the 30 percent IRS tax credit. Recently, the Obama administration also has become increasingly critical of Chinese trade practices.

In the next phase, Commerce will continue to review dumping margins before rendering the final determination, which is expected in October.

For more information, please contact any member of the Energy and Project Finance Group.

Copyright © 2012 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
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