A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) 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 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 Protections to increase reviews and potential enforcement actions against some manufacturers and importers.

“American businesses and workers have been harmed by the unscrupulous practices of Chinese producers and suppliers for far too long. It has cost American workers’ jobs and American companies’ money,” said Tom Towslee, Wyden’s state communications director. “For the Department of Commerce to ask Customs and Border Protection to take this extraordinary step is welcome news that I hope will stop Chinese suppliers from engaging in fraudulent schemes to avoid paying duties and tariffs.”

The memo claims that a Commerce analysis of import data suggests some manufacturers and importers are misrepresenting their products.

“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,” reads an excerpt from the memo.

A SolarWorld official in Hillsboro said he was pleased with the crackdown.

“For U.S. manufacturing employees, this evasion adds insult to injury,” explained Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc. in a prepared statement. “The U.S. solar industry and its work force have suffered profound, sustained harm from China’s illegal trade practices. We alerted U.S. authorities and, over the course of 13-month investigations, we were proved right. Now, the Chinese producers and their importers are apparently trying to sidestep the application of these lawfully determined trade remedies. We applaud the government for being alert to this new phase of cheating.”

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