It’s Official: Tariffs For Chinese Solar Vendors

Solar Panel ReservoirAmerican solar manufacturers are gaining ground on October 11 after the United States Commerce Department issues strong anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese solar imports. Tariffs range between 34 and 47 percent for major manufacturers and up to 265 percent for other Chinese suppliers, with most falling higher than duties recommended earlier in the year. American solar companies First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) and SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) have risen on the news.

Suntech Power Holdings (NYSE:STP), one of China’s largest solar manufacturers, is down almost 4 percent in afternoon trading. The company recently announced a restructuring plan aimed at turning its year to date losses of over 63 percent around. The Commerce Department’s decision puts 31.73 percent anti-dumping and a 14.78 countervailing duty on the company. China’s LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) is also down on the news and threatens to drop below a dollar per share.

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Many American manufacturers are calling the tariffs a victory. Chinese solar manufacturers effectively flooded the world market and — many claim — are responsible for driving dozens, if not hundreds, of companies out of business. The German company SolarWorld is leading the tariff charge in both the United States and Europe. According to Reuters, outside attorney for the company Timothy Brightbill said, “In our view, all Chinese cells and all Chinese modules are dumped and subsidized.” These subsidies represent a prohibitive obstacle to fair competition.

Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE) has managed to escape the overall drop in Chinese solar stocks on October 11, rising over 4 percent in the afternoon. Yingli’s new tariffs would be 15.42 percent anti-dumping and 15.24 percent anti-subsidy, lower than what was proposed earlier in the year. In a press release commenting on the U.S. decision, CEO Liangsheng Miao said: “The potential of the U.S. solar market is vast, and we remain dedicated despite the industry’s challenges throughout this past year.”

A set of companies did benefit from cheap photo-voltaic prices — namely installers. Some of these companies support Yingli and other Chinese solar companies through the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy. CASE “is a fast-growing coalition of American solar companies that believe free trade and industry competition are critical to making solar electricity affordable for everyone,” according to its website. It continues, “Protectionism drives up the price of solar electricity and negatively affects more than 5,000 American solar companies.”

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