Commerce rejects anonymous petition to tariff solar panels imported from Southeast Asia

The Department of Commerce today sent a letter to the American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (A-SMACC) denying A-SMACC’s request for a tariff avoidance investigation of Chinese solar panel companies operating in Southeast Asian countries.

A-SMACC first filed the petition in August, asking Commerce to investigate whether specific Chinese solar panel manufacturers in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were working to avoid anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CV) imposed on the EU since 2012. imports of Chinese solar panels have been imposed. A-SMACC filed the petition for an unknown number of anonymous companies, claiming that anonymity was justified for fear of retaliation from China.

The corporate reasoning behind the petition’s rejection today was largely due to the anonymous nature of the parties involved.

“Failing to disclose the names of A-SMACC members hinders interested parties from fully commenting on the evasion investigation requests and may prevent them from commenting on certain issues that could arise if Commerce launches an evasion investigation.” would start,” Abdelali Elouaradia, director of Commerce’s Office IV AD/CVD Operations, said in today’s letter.

The decision comes as a relief to the US solar community, which predicted major job losses if excessive tariffs on imported solar panels were to delay or alter plans for utility projects. A-SMACC asked for additional tariffs ranging from 50 to 250% on panel imports from the three countries — an area that provided 80% of U.S. crystalline silicon solar panel imports in the first half of 2021.

Since 2012, AD/CV levies have been in effect against Chinese solar manufacturers. A-SMACC wanted to dig deeper into specific Chinese companies operating in the three mentioned countries as a possible way to circumvent the rights:

  • Malaysia: JinkoSolar, LONGi (and affiliates), JA Solar
  • Thailand: Canadian Solar, Trina Solar, Talesun Solar, Astroenergy
  • Vietnam: Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, Sunergy, Boviet Solar, GCL, LONGi (and affiliates), JinkoSolar

In 2015, Commerce completed a similar investigation into Chinese solar companies that had relocated solar cell production to Taiwan as a way to evade anti-dumping tariffs, and Commerce found that Taiwan’s operations were wrong and the tariffs were extended to the country. But since A-SMACC asked for an investigation in 2021 on specific companies rather than the countries as a whole, and since the business transactions of the anonymous petitioners are unknown, Commerce has rejected the petition because it does not meet the requirements of the petitioner. the Tariff Act of 1930.

“A-SMACC has not requested that the trade be circumvented nationwide, but has previously expressed its preference for initiating
the requested evasion requests on a company-specific basis. Other industry-informed interested parties may wish to comment on A-SMACC’s preference to conduct the requested anti-circumvention investigations only in respect of certain companies located in the countries concerned. Any business relationships between A-SMACC’s members and companies that may have offices in the countries concerned should not play a role in determining which companies are subject to circumvention proceedings,” said Elouaradia.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the solar industry advocacy group SEIA, celebrated the decision:

In a major victory for America’s 231,000 solar workers, the US Department of Commerce rejected petitions to bypass tariffs on solar energy imports from Southeast Asia. The petitions have already had a chilling effect on the industry’s supply chain, and had they been imposed we would have seen massive project cancellations and job losses within days.

Today’s decision provides companies with a huge stream of assurance to keep their investments moving, hire more employees and deploy more clean energy. This is a critical time for climate progress and we cannot afford to step back at a time when we need to deploy more clean energy than ever before.

As we have seen before, trade restrictions can cause irreparable harm to the solar industry. The petitions to circumvent it were one of many trade actions in the solar industry and some damage has already been done. SEIA will continue to monitor the impact of these harmful and illegal petitions for circumventing the solar industry.

Meanwhile, solar companies and workers can take a deep breath. Today’s decision, coupled with investments from the Build Back Better Act, will enable the solar industry to lead America’s transition to a prosperous clean energy future.

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