U.S. sets steep final duties on Chinese solar panels

Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:54am EDT
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By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday slapped steep final duties on billions of dollars of solar energy products from China, but turned down a request from lawmakers and U.S. manufacturers to expand the scope of its order.

China's government and its solar manufacturers criticized the decision, adding more heat to the U.S.-China trade relationship following a congressional panel report on Monday urging American companies not to do business with two Chinese telecommunications companies because of security concerns.

"The United States is provoking trade friction in the new energy sector, and sending a negative signal to the world that stirs global trade protectionism and obstructs the sector's development," said China's Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang.

Shen called on Washington to "correct its mistaken ways" and warned that the duties would harm U.S. exporters and customers.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Chinese companies were "dumping" solar cells and panels in the United States at prices 18.32 percent to 249.96 percent below fair value, although some individual companies received lower anti-dumping duty rates than in a preliminary decision earlier this year.

The department also set additional countervailing duties ranging from 14.78 to 15.97 percent to combat Chinese government subsidies, significantly higher than preliminary levels.

The United States imported about $3.1 billion worth of solar cells and panels from China in 2011, although that figure contains some products not covered by the investigation.

In a related decision that disappointed U.S. producers and cheered U.S. companies that install solar panels, the department turned down pleas to expand the scope of its order to include Chinese panels (or modules) made with non-Chinese solar cells.   Continued...

An employee walks on solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region May 18, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer