US Accuses Four Chinese Solar Panel Companies of Circumventing Tariffs

On December 2, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued preliminary determinations in the circumvention inquiries of solar cells and modules from China. Four Chinese enterprises, including LONGi Green Energy, Trina Solar, Canadian Solar and BYD, were found to be circumventing tariffs.

The enterprises involved quickly responded to this matter, saying that the preliminary determinations have no legal effect for the time being. At present, customs clearance has been normal, and the matter will be followed up.

The investigation involves eight companies, including BYD Hong Kong and New East Solar in Cambodia, Hanwha and Jinko in Malaysia, Canadian Solar and Trina in Thailand, Vietnam-based Boviet, a subsidiary of Bowie Alloys, and Vina Solar Technology, a subsidiary of LONGi Green Energy. Hanwha, Jinko, New East Solar, and Boviet were not ruled to have circumvented the restrictions.

The U.S. Department of Commerce claimed that it had examined a complaint alleging that eight solar companies that manufacture solar cells and modules are manufacturing their components in China, then sending those cells and modules to Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and/or Vietnam for minor processing before being exported to the United States.

“Such actions amount to an effort to evade the existing antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders on solar cells and modules from China, which undermine American industries,” the department claimed, adding that “this does not constitute a ban on imports from those countries. Companies in these countries will be permitted to certify that they are not circumventing the AD/CVD orders.”

With regard to the companies under investigation that were not circumventing the AD/CVD duties, no action will be taken as long as their production process and supply chain do not change. Furthermore, the department will fully consider all parties before issuing its final determination, which is currently scheduled for May 1, 2023.

Trina Solar said that the company already has relevant coping strategies if the final ruling is still the same result. Because the company has no integrated production capacity in Southeast Asia at present, silicon wafers are exported to Southeast Asia from China, causing the risks that the U.S. Department of Commerce mentioned. When the silicon wafer production capacity is built next year, the policy risks in this area will be avoided.

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When talking about Vina Solar, a spokesperson for LONGi Green Energy said that the preliminary determinations are aimed at the industry, not certain enterprises, and the company has sufficient means to deal with relevant problems.

In recent years, renewable energy has become an important direction of energy structure reform in various countries, among which the photovoltaic industry is favored because of its unique advantages such as a large exploitable amount, high safety and reliability, little impact on the environment and a wider application range. However, some have disputed these claims.