China rails at 30 percent tariff on solar panels
China says the US is "deliberately provoking trade friction in the clean energy sector." The US says Chinese exporters were dumping cut-price solar panels in the US market.
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DZ Bank analyst Sven Kuerten cautioned: "While the tariff may help SolarWorld in the U.S., the Chinese modules will be sold into other markets, increasing the price pressure there, so we see no huge fundamental improvement for SolarWorld."Skip to next paragraph
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China's solar companies hold more than 60 percent of the global market. The U.S. market alone accounts for about 20 percent of sales of China's largest solar panel manufacturers.
Their heavy reliance on subsidized U.S. and European markets has prompted criticism that loans from Chinese state-run banks and low prices gave the companies an unfair advantage.
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Under the decision, 59 Chinese solar companies that petitioned Washington in the case will also face an import duty of about 31 percent, including Yingli Green Energy, LDK Solar, Canadian Solar, Hanwha solar One, JA Solar Holding and Jinko Solar.
Other Chinese companies could now face a 250 percent tariff, although those levels could be altered before the final ruling is issued by the Commerce Department in coming months.
The U.S. ruling, retroactive to cover imports dating back 90 days, comes two months after Washington set more modest tariffs of less than 5 percent on imports from China because of what it deemed Beijing's unfair support for its solar industry.
Suntech, the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, which also operates a panel plant in Arizona, denied it sold below its cost of production.
"All leading companies in the global solar industry want to see a trade war averted. We need more competition and innovation, not litigation," Andrew Beebe, Suntech's chief commercial officer, said in a statement.
Yingli Energy and Trina Solar said they would actively defend their position in administrative proceedings.
There was speculation that Chinese companies could circumvent the restrictions by buying Taiwan cells and wafers for panels and assembling them outside the mainland.
"This is positive for Taiwanese players, which can come in and supply solar cells to U.S. panel makers that won't be buying from the Chinese," said Keith Li, analyst at CIMB Research.
Chinese companies had been bracing for a punitive duty of 15 percent, analysts said. Some have already started to look for markets beyond Europe and the United States.
"By late last year, we started shifting our focus away from the United States and into other growth markets like Japan," said Solargiga Energy Chief Financial Officer Jason Chow. "Japan has started offering attractive incentives for solar."
(Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt, with Braden Reddall in Houston, Ran Li in Beijing and Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and David Holmes)RECOMMENDED: Top 5 nations using renewable energy