Solar Trade Wars on the Horizon?

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted October 21, 2011

On Wednesday, SolarWorld AG (PINK: SRWRY) and six other solar manufacturers filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce against Chinese solar trading.

The companies requested that the government place duties on Chinese solar imports, possibly worth up to $1 billion.

They fear that the low cost of panels from China is hurting not only the competitive nature of some American companies but also the availability of solar-related jobs in the United States.

A Chinese official posted on the Chinese Commerce Ministry’s website in response, as Reuters reported:

“If the U.S. government files a case, adopts duties and sends an inappropriate protectionist signal, it would cast a shadow over world economic recovery.”

The Chinese government has assured the public that their efforts are for environmental purposes and also that they have met all World Trade Organization requirements for their clean energy products.

Officials from China brought to public attention on Friday a U.S. solar industry report showing that U.S. solar exports to China outweighed Chinese imports by $1.9 billion, Reuters reported.

The solar companies filing the complaint fear Chinese companies are manipulating prices and deliberately selling at cheaper costs.

Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy, disagrees.  As he told Bloomberg:

“If their complaint was valid, you’d see Chinese companies benefiting.  In fact they are suffering as well.”

And Carlo Domenech, president of SunEdison, thinks this is true as well.  Contrary to the complaints, Domenech believes that Chinese competition is doing good things for panel prices in the United States, and that in enabling these low prices, it is also creating jobs, as he told Bloomberg.

The Chinese companies, meanwhile, are not ready to back down.

Liu Pengxu, spokesman for the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, told China Daily that the Chinese companies are ready to oppose these attempts to place duties and restrictions on their products.

Some fear a trade war could arise from this.  If that happens, the solar industry would certainly take a hit.

That’s all for now,


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