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Chinese Solar Imports Decline

Domestic Production Could Thrive

Written by Swagato Chakravorty
Posted July 16, 2012 at 4:55PM

In what may be a turning of the tide for the domestic solar sector, U.S. imports of Chinese solar cells and panels fell for a second consecutive month in May.

The total for that month was $124.1 million, about 45 percent lower than the same month’s data for 2011, which was $225.8 million. The American market may finally be responding to the quality control issues that plague Chinese-issue solar technologies.

The import levels for 2012, however, are still higher than last year—$1.21 billion in the first five months of 2012 compared to $993.2 million for 2011’s equivalent.

Back in March, the Department of Commerce stated that it would apply anti-subsidy duties reaching 4.73 percent on Chinese equipment, and these would affect imports from all the way back in December of 2011.

In May, the Department of Commerce also levied anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar imports in a wide range of 31 percent to nearly 250 percent.

In October, the Department intends to publish findings of its ongoing investigation into the specific levels of dumping between the second and third quarters of 2011, and those findings will likely lead to further tariffs. Duty margins will rise at the end of the year if it turns out that in 2012, Chinese pricing dropped below production costs for the goods imported.

The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) includes seven domestic makers of solar technologies and equipment who are fighting to reduce foreign dumping into the U.S. market, which ends up both flooding the nation with goods of questionable quality and makes competition extremely difficult. Evasion of customs taxes adds to the financial problems, and CASM is working with U.S. Customs to prevent that.

Competition with the Chinese solar panel industry has hurt a number of U.S. solar companies recently, contributing to the solar bankruptcies that have occurred over the past year.

If this decrease in Chinese imports continues, U.S. solar companies may have a resurgence of domestic success.

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