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Current Trade Disputes

The European Union recently initiated an antidumping duty investigation targeting solar wafers, cells, and modules from China.

In addition, both the U.S. and Chinese governments are currently investigating complaints from domestic companies that imported products from the U.S. to China, or conversely, from China to the U.S., are unfairly supported by their respective governments and cause harm to the domestic industry. These cases can be brought by a private company or industry to be investigated by the government pursuant to the internationally-agreed upon rules of international trade set forth in the World Trade Organization (WTO), of which both the U.S. and China are members. Individual countries may enact different laws to counteract illegal trade practices, and, therefore, trade remedy cases may proceed in a multitude of forms depending on where they are brought. However, the end result of the process is to ensure that illegal practices are stopped by imposing duties or other trade remedy actions on the products or exports in question.

SEIA strongly supports the rules based global trading system and believes that trade remedy proceedings are a legitimate tool to maintain a free and fair global trading system. Furthermore, trade remedy investigations are a fact-based, legal process, and, accordingly, SEIA does not advocate for or endorse any particular case.  SEIA will continue to educate and inform our members, the public and policy-makers regarding the process of U.S.-China trade disputes, as well as their ramifications.  For more information on the case, visit our U.S. AD/CVD Trade Investigation Resources for Federal Register Notices and other official documents.  

In addition, SEIA supports international collaboration in order to prevent unnecessary or damaging trade conflict. If you would like to learn more about what SEIA is doing to facilitate international collaboration on trade in solar products, please see our Collaboration on International Trade page.  

Overview of U.S. Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty (AD/CVD) Investigation 

On October 19, 2011 the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, led by SolarWorld Industries America, Inc., filed an antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) petition requesting that the U.S. governsment impose special tariffs on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells (CSPV) from China. The petition covers CSPV cells, whether or not assembled into modules, and excludes thin film PV products.

The petition claims that (1) imported products from China are being sold in the U.S. at unfair prices (i.e. "dumped"); (2) the Chinese government unfairly subsidizes its manufacturers and exporters; and (3) the dumped and subsidized imports are a cause of material injury to the U.S. industry producing CSPV cells.

Here's how the investigation will proceed, as explained by a Department of Commerce expert. 

Overview of China Unfair Trade Barrier Investigation

In November 2011 the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) initiated an Unfair Trade Barrier Investigation into six state-level renewable energy subsidy programs in the United States. The investigation targets 5 states, and covers multiple renewable energy technology incentives, including solar. 

On May 24, 2012, MOFCOM preliminarily determined that these subsidies violate U.S. obligations under the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) of the WTO.  The government has extended the investigation 90 days.

Overview of China WTO Complaint

On May 25, 2012 China announced it had launched an official complaint at the WTO against U.S. import duties on 22 Chinese products, including solar cells.  The complaint alleges that the U.S. application of countervailing duties on Chinese products is inconsistent with WTO rules and constitues a subsidy to U.S. companies.

The complaint now enters a 60 days consultation period where the parties will meet to negotiate a settlement at the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body.  If no agreement is reached the complaint will be taken up by a panel of WTO judges.

Additional Resources

World Trade Organization (WTO) - Learn more about the international trade rules and agreements that govern U.S. trade law.  

Department of Commerce - The Department of Commerce (DOC) investigates allegations of unfair trade practices, among its other duties.  

International Trade Administration - The ITA is the part of the Commerce Department that advises on U.S. trade policy and works to promote the U.S. business environment at home and abroad. 

U.S. International Trade Commission - The ITC is a quasi-judicial federal agency that focuses on trade investigations.  The ITC works in concert with the DOC on AD/CVD investigations.