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Wyden lauds crackdown on solar firms

Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden’s office is praising the U.S. Department of Commerce for cracking down on companies suspected of trying to evade tariffs imposed on manufacturers and importers of Chinese-made solar panels.

The tariffs followed a successful trade complaint last year by SolarWorld, a German-based solar panel manufacturing company with a large plant in Hillsboro. In an April 9 memo, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it had asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection to increase reviews and potential enforcement actions against some manufacturers and importers.

“American businesses and the workers have been harmed by the unscrupulous practices of Chinese producers and suppliers for far too long,” said Tom Towslee, Wyden’s state communications director.

The memo claims that a Commerce analysis of import data suggests some manufacturers and importers are misrepresenting their products. Among other things, according to the memo, “the data suggest that some importers may either be improperly declaring merchandise as not subject to the AD/CVD [anti-dumping/countervailing duty] orders, or may be understating the value of the imported merchandise declared as subject to the relevant orders.”

A SolarWorld official in Hillsboro was pleased with the crackdown.

“For U.S. manufacturing employees, this evasion adds insult to injury,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., in a prepared statement. “The U.S. solar industry and its workforce have suffered profound, sustained harm from China’s illegal trade practices.

— Jim Redden