International Trade Commission expected to back complaint in November

The U.S. Department of Commerce affirmed its earlier decision in support of SolarWorld's international trade complaint against China on Wednesday, finalizing tariffs and duties to be imposed against Chinese-manufacturered solar cells.

SolarWorld, a German company with a large manufacturing plant in Hillsboro, charged the Chinese government was illegally subsidizing the country's solar cell manufacturers, allowing them to sell their products below cost in the U.S. for the purpose of monopolizing the market.

SolarWorld also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission, which is expected to issue a decision on Nov. 7. The tariffs and duties cannot be imposed unless the ITC also agrees with the complaint, which is widely expected.

In response, Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, who supports the complaint, issued a statement saying, “I am glad the administration intends to act against cheating by Chinese solar producers, but fear today’s ruling leaves a loophole that will enable these companies to sidestep the impacts. That gap exempts panels from tariffs when only a small portion of panels is made outside of China."

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, which opposes the complaint, issued a statement minimizing the impact of the ruling. In the statement, CASE President Jigar Shah, said, “We believe that global competition is good for American solar consumers and companies. Fortunately, these tariffs will not stop the development of American solar energy, which 92 percent of the American people want to see developed even more, according to a recent national poll. On behalf of 97% to 98% of the US solar industry that fought against SolarWorld, we are all looking forward to ending this distraction and returning to our everyday focus of creating jobs and lowering renewable energy costs.”

An earlier story with more details will be published in the print and online editions of the Portland Tribune on Thursday.

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