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STATEMENT: CAP’s Melanie Hart on Commerce Department Solar Antidumping Announcement

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Contact: Christina DiPasquale
Phone: 202.481.8181
Email: cdipasquale@americanprogress.org

Washington, D.C — This afternoon the U.S. Department of Commerce released its preliminary determination on the question of whether Chinese solar panel manufacturers are illegally “dumping” low-priced panels into the U.S. market. Melanie Hart, Policy Analyst on China Energy and Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:

As expected, the antidumping tariffs are much higher than the subsidy tariffs announced in March. One reason for that difference is the fact that the Chinese market is not transparent. When China’s local government officials support local enterprises, that support is often off the books, and that makes it very hard for Commerce Department investigators to identify and measure exactly what type and level of subsidy Chinese companies are receiving. This is precisely why the World Trade Organization includes a second-stage determination, on dumping practices, specifically designed to address nonmarket economies such as China’s.

The Chinese government will no doubt respond negatively to this announcement. They may even threaten to take retaliatory action against U.S. companies. If so, Washington must respond with a steady hand. If China wants to negotiate, the United States should be ready to listen. If China tries to force the U.S. government to back down in this dispute by threatening U.S. companies, however, that is not negotiation. Backing down to those threats would be capitulation, and capitulation is a losing game. Just as we cannot allow powerful corporations to bully and harass citizens who file legal complaints against them, we cannot allow China to bully and harass U.S. companies over trade complaints.

If China wants to contest these numbers, they should follow the U.S. example and do so according to the law and within the framework of our mutually agreed trade institutions. At the recent Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings in Beijing, Chinese leaders promised to follow global trade rules and support rather than undermine the rules-based global trading system. Now the world will be watching to see if they uphold that promise.

The decision is in response to an antidumping petition filed by SolarWorld Industries America, Inc. against Chinese solar panel manufacturers last fall. The antidumping tariffs are 31.22 percent for Suntech, 31.14 percent for Trina, and 31.18 percent for the other manufacturers who participated in the investigation and provided information to the Department of Commerce. Commerce also announced a China-wide tariff of 249.96 percent for all other Chinese solar companies and granted critical circumstances, which means that the tariffs will be applied retroactively (90 days from the official filing, which will occur in the next few days).

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To speak to CAP experts, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogress.org.

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