ITC votes in favor of SolarWorld trade petition
By Erik Siemers
SolarWorld's Gordon Brinser, center, applauded the vote Friday from the U.S. international Trade Commission.
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday advanced its investigation into China’s trade policies, voting that the import of Chinese solar panels has caused harm to U.S. solar manufacturers.
Though the outcome was expected by many, that it was a unanimous 6-0 vote is good news for Hillsboro-based SolarWorld Industries America Inc. and its push to for tariffs on imported Chinese panels.
“Today’s unanimous vote is another step toward restoring the healthy global competition in the solar industry that has reliably driven down production costs and prices by 10 percent or so a year for many years,” Gordon Brinser, president of German panel-maker SolarWorld AG’s U.S. division, said in a prepared statement. “We only ask for fair and legal competition, which is good for industry and consumers alike.”
In related news, the SolarWorld-led Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing said 59 members of Congress — all Democrats — have signed onto their cause.
Six Senate Democrats and another 53 from the House signed a letter sent to President Barack Obama Friday asking him to endorse the coalition’s quest to have duties imposed on Chinese solar imports.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was among the elected officials initiating the letter.
The coalition in October filing a trade complaint seeking tariffs of more than 100 percent on imported Chinese panels and cells, claiming that China has been dumping low-cost, subsidized panels into the U.S. market.
The International Trade Commission vote on Friday advances the issue onto the next stage.
According to SolarWorld, that comes January 12, when the commission could give a preliminary determination of countervailing duties — which would be imposed to counter the subsidies that have allegedly given the Chinese companies an unfair advantage.
The ITC probe is running in parallel to another investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce that could determine whether importers must pay duties retroactively.
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