Why don’t bananas like getting sun burnt?
Did you hear about the guy who sat up all night wondering where the sun had gone?
The next morning it dawned on him.
Larry, Moe & Curly were all working for NASA (who knew?) and arguing where NASA should go on its next mission. Larry said Mars; Moe said the Moon; and then Curly pipes up and says the Sun! Moe pokes Curly in the eye and says “you knucklehead, you can’t go to the Sun, you would melt or burn up before you even got close!” Curly, always too quick to respond, says “DUH… but not if you go at night!”
The Chinese producers and exporters of solar cells are not laughing, as the other shoe has dropped. The U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) on May 17, 2012 released its preliminary affirmative determination in the antidumping duty investigation of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, From the People’s Republic of China. While the preliminary determination in the parallel countervailing duty investigation had relatively low subsidy rates ranging from 2.90 percent ad valorem to 4.73 percent ad valorem, the dumping margins are not low. The investigated companies with the collapsed names of Wuxi Suntech and Trina Solar received rates of 31.22 percent and 31.14 percent ad valorem, respectively, while the separate rate for 59 other Chinese producers and exporters who came forward is 31.18 percent ad valorem. The PRC-wide rate for all other Chinese producers and exporters is 249.96 percent ad valorem. These are only the preliminary rates and may change in the final determination, but for now the Chinese producers and exporters can find nothing funny about the heavy handed actions of the United States to dampen their export businesses. The state-run Xinhua news agency reports that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has said that the ruling sends “negative signals of trade protectionism.”
Commerce also preliminarily determined that critical circumstances exist. That preliminary determination means that Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to require a cash deposit or bond based on these preliminary rates, applicable to all Customs entries of Chinese solar cells made up to 90 days prior to the date of publication of the preliminary determination notice. Commerce is currently scheduled to make its final antidumping determination in early October 2012, and the countervailing duty determination earlier than that. Should Commerce make an affirmative final determination in its countervailing duty and antidumping duty investigations, and the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) make an affirmative final determination that imports of solar cells from China materially injure or threaten material injury to the domestic industry, Commerce would issue countervailing and antidumping duty orders. The ITC will make its final injury determination on or before November 19, 2012. The petitioner for this investigation is SolarWorld Industries America Inc.
It is possible that the Chinese producers and exporters could have the last laugh, as it is always possible that the ITC could make a negative final determination of injury. Aside from that longshot possibility, Commerce earlier may have opened a window even as it now appears to have shut the door with the high dumping duties. On March 20, 2012, Commerce announced a clarification of the scope of the ongoing dumping and countervailing duty investigations by finding that the scope covers not only imports of solar cells produced in China and solar modules/panels produced in China from Chinese-made solar cells, but also imports of solar modules/panels produced outside of China from solar cells produced in China. More significantly, however, Commerce further found that the scope does not cover imports of modules/panels produced in China from solar cells produced in a third country. Rumor has it that at least the larger Chinese panel makers already are exploring bypassing the new tariffs by obtaining solar cells for sale to the U.S. market from Taiwan and other countries.
For discussions of earlier stages of these cases, see http://sustainability-counsel.com/2012/04/03/sun-subsidies/ and http://sustainability-counsel.com/2012/01/06/the-wind-and-the-sun/.