Final U.S. tariffs for Chinese solar-energy equipment makers will be higher than the preliminary levies of as much as 4.73 percent imposed last week, said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld AG (SWV)’s U.S. unit.
The initial penalty “does not cover the full extent of the harm” caused by Chinese subsidies and unfair product pricing, Brinser said yesterday in an interview in Washington. The decision was “just one of four steps,” he said, though “a good step forward.”
The U.S. International Trade Commission, acting on a complaint by SolarWorld, found in December that American companies had been harmed by Chinese subsidies and by producers from the Asian nation selling their products at below cost in the U.S., a practice known as dumping.
The Commerce Department will make a preliminary determination on anti-dumping tariffs on May 17 and a final ruling on countervailing duties in June. Brinser declined to estimate the level of tariffs that will eventually be imposed.
The Chinese government uses cash grants, raw-material discounts, preferential loans, tax incentives and currency manipulation to boost exports of solar cells, according to SolarWorld’s Oct. 19 complaint to the trade commission and the Commerce Department.
In the complaint, SolarWorld and six other domestic producers asked for 100 percent tariffs to counter the alleged dumping. They didn’t specify a remedy for the unfair subsidies.
While Brinser acknowledged that among U.S. solar-power companies there is “a coalition out there that oppose the case,” he said his company has a “broad base of support” within the industry.
The Commerce Department on March 20 told Suntech Power Holdings Co., the world’s largest solar-panel maker, to pay a 2.9 percent tariff and Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL:US) to pay 4.73 percent to make up for subsidies they received from China’s government. All other Chinese solar-equipment firms were told to pay 3.61 percent. The duties are retroactive to 90 days before the ruling.
“This could have been a lot worse,” Aaron Chew, an analyst at Maxim Group LLC, said after the decision was announced. Chew said some people expected a tariff as high as 10 percent.
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