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By Brian Flood
Imports of solar products from China will, for the most part, face lower countervailing duties, the Court of International Trade affirmed Sept. 8 ( Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co. v. United States , Ct. Int’l Trade, No. 15-00068, 9/8/17 ).
The lower duty rates came as the Commerce Department, as directed by the CIT in December, recalculated the countervailing duty margins on certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from China. Commerce revised the duty rate for Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co.'s products from 49.21 percent to 39.50 percent. Most other Chinese producers and exporters saw their duty rate fall from 38.43 percent to 33.58 percent. Only one company, Wuxi Suntech Power Co., saw its duty rate rise, but only from 27.64 percent to 27.65 percent.
The court has not yet released a public version of its opinion detailing its reasoning for upholding Commerce’s revisions. A public version is expected some time after Sept. 14, according to the docket sheet.
Trade protections against foreign solar products have been a contentious issue. Domestic manufacturers Suniva Inc. and SolarWorld Americas Inc. have asked the Trump administration for rarely used “global safeguards” against solar cells and modules imported from around the world. Such protections could take the form of tariffs or quotas.
Suniva and SolarWorld companies say imports contributed to the closure of nearly 30 U.S. production facilities in the industry since 2012 and operating losses of $865 million, and that global safeguards are needed because foreign producers can circumvent the more typical antidumping or countervailing duties.
But the Solar Energy Industries Association objected and said safeguard tariffs would double the cost of solar panels, which would hurt consumers and would costs tens of thousands of jobs in industries such as rooftop installers and solar farms.
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The docket sheet for this case is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Changzhou_Trina_Solar_Energy_Co_Ltd_et_al_v_United_States_Docket_/2?doc_id=X1Q6N9KKLB82.
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