US solar duties on China 'not having an effect'

Outsourcing of final cells production to other regions like Taiwan are circumventing tariffs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 3:00am


Mainland solar power panel parts makers will be little affected by the higher duties imposed by the United States government on solar cells as producers have already been outsourcing cells production to other regions like Taiwan to circumvent the duties.

The US Department of Commerce on Wednesday said it had come up with "final determinations" on anti-dumping duties on mainland exporters deemed to be selling at below "fair value" and countervailing duties to offset government subsidies.

Some 59 mainland cell makers will be subject to an anti-dumping charge of 25.96 per cent, down from 31.18 per cent in May, while their countervailing levies have been raised to 15.24 per cent from between 2.9 per cent and 4.7 per cent in March.

"Essentially all of the mainland cell makers have been shifting the final production process overseas, much of it to Taiwan, [so] the real impact of the duties are minimal," said Ray Lian Rui, an analyst with industry consultancy Solarbuzz.

A spokesman for one of the mainland's largest solar panel and parts makers, who declined to be named, said the "loophole" was created when solar panel parts maker Solarworld Industries America filed a petition last year with the US government, requesting an investigation into alleged dumping and unfair subsidies since the petition focused only on cells exported from China to the US.

Solar cells are processed from polysilicon, ingots and wafers in a long supply chain, and are made into modules and panels.

The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that the duties are unfair and Beijing is unhappy that the US is ignoring reasonable explanations by mainland firms, adding the protectionist measures will hurt US consumers as well as firms that export solar-panel raw material and equipment to the mainland.

Mainland solar panel parts makers are facing the prospect of more anti-dumping and countervailing duties from the European Union - a much bigger market than the US - that could have a real impact since the probe by Brussels into alleged unfair trade practices by mainland producers cover both wafers and cells.