China slams U.S. over 'protectionist' solar cell duties
Sales to the U.S. solar cell and solar panel market were worth $3.1 billion to Chinese producers in 2011.
Fri, May 18, 2012 at 5:30 AM
QUALITY CHECK: Chinese workers inspect a solar panel at the Tianxiang Solar Energy Equipment Factory in Huaibei, east China's Anhui province. (Photo: AFP)
BEIJING — Beijing on May 18 blasted a "protectionist" U.S. decision to slap hefty anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar cell makers, the latest barb in a series of trade rows between the global economic powers.
The U.S. Commerce Department on May 17 imposed levies of between 31 and 250 percent on Chinese producers and exporters after saying it had found they sold solar cells in the United States at artificially low prices, known as dumping.
But commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said: "Such practices... do not fit with the fact that Chinese enterprises are market economy participants, and highlight the United States' tendency towards trade protectionism.
"The U.S. ruling is unfair and China is extremely dissatisfied."
Chinese solar cell companies on May 17 criticized the U.S. move.
Suntech Power, which was specifically named in the U.S. government probe, said the decision was out of touch with reality.
"These duties do not reflect the reality of a highly-competitive global solar industry," Andrew Beebe, Suntech's chief commercial officer, said in a statement late on May 17.
He said the company, the world's largest maker of solar cells, would work with the U.S. government to remove the duties.
"Despite these harmful trade barriers, we hope that the U.S., China and all countries will engage in constructive dialogue to avert a deepening solar trade war," Beebe said.
The U.S. probe named Suntech Power and Trina Solar — another large producer — as key offenders, but said at least 59 other Chinese companies would also be hit with anti-dumping charges.
The duties also cover panels and modules made in other countries using Chinese solar cells.
The move is part of a long-running trade row between Washington and Beijing, who have clashed over a range of issues that have on occasion had to be settled by the World Trade Organization.
The latest duties take aim at a huge market that Chinese exporters have come to dominate with the help of vast state subsidies, their U.S. rivals say.
Sales to the U.S. solar cell and solar panel market were worth $3.1 billion to Chinese producers last year, according to the Commerce Department.
Trina Solar said it would still attempt to serve the U.S. market despite the duties and remained committed to keeping prices low.
"This is simply what is required to unlock the next level of fossil fuel replacement in the United States," Mark Kingsley, Trina's chief commercial officer, said in a statement.
"Any duties are short-sighted impediments to this worthy goal."
Shen accused the United States of provoking "trade fictions" in the field of clean energy, and said Washington was sending "negative signals of trade protectionism to the whole world" by doing so.
The move "will not only damage the interests of Chinese enterprises, but will also affect the interests of downstream users in the United States," he said.
He added it would also be "detrimental for the development of the US clean energy industry as well as Sino-U.S. cooperation in the new energy field."
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition
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