- US Department of Commerce has asked for more information from A-SMACC members in the anti-circumvention petition for Chinese solar modules coming from Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand
- It will give its final ruling/initiate the investigation within 45 days of A-SMACC submitting the response by October 6, 2021
- Roth Capital Partners believes the department may not take up the case at all
The US Department of Commerce seems to be in no hurry to take a call on imposing anti-circumvention duties on Chinese solar modules coming from the 3 Southeast Asian nations of Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, as it has sought further information in the case.
US Department of Commerce wants…
The department has written to the law firm Wiley that’s representing anonymous US solar manufacturing companies American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (A-SMACC) to furnish additional information. It will help the department address certain threshold issues before merits of the anti-circumvention rulings can be considered.
Among other information sought, the department wants to know the reason why members of A-SMACC fear retaliation and other forms of harm if their identity is revealed. It has also asked for any foreign ownership in any of the A-SMACC members, identifying countries where solar cells, used in solar modules produced by these members, were produced, if any of the A-SMACC members or their affiliates have sales and/or production operations for solar cells or solar modules located in the 3 named Asian nations.
The department has also sought information about whether A-SMACC or their member affiliates in the US purchase polysilicon materials or other raw material for their solar cells and modules from Chinese companies.
Response from Wiley is sought by October 6, 2021, and the department will issue final rulings or initiate anti-circumvention inquiries within 45 days from that date.
Recently, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) wrote to the department a letter signed by more than 200 companies to dismiss A-SMACC’s petition terming it frivolous. It said the Wiley petition asks for the department to impose as high as 50% to 250% duties for solar cells and panels of Chinese companies being imported into the US from the 3 above mentioned locations (see SEIA Warning On Higher Solar Tariffs).
SEIA President and CEO Abigail Hopper stressed that the petitioners have no case as the department’s queries ‘clearly indicates’ the filing is largely devoid of information and that ‘they have no case for circumvention’.
Terming SEIA’s ‘claims of hypothetical harm’ as wrong and wildly overstated, Wiley’s International Trade Practice Partner Tim Brightbill denied A-SMACC having requested for particular tariff rates to be imposed. He pointed out that there is plenty of fairly traded, non-Chinese available capacity, estimated at 30 GW, to meet US solar demand from non-subject companies in the 3 nations—in addition to new and increasing capacity from US producers.
“A-SMACC had to treat as confidential the identities of the companies that are part of A-SMACC because disclosure could lead to retribution against these companies, including from the Chinese government and other China-affiliated entities, and cause substantial harm,” said Brightbill and demanded, “Commerce should immediately initiate these investigations and begin to investigate Chinese solar circumvention by these companies.”
Experts think otherwise…
Philip Shen of Roth Capital Partners sees a ‘healthy probability’ for the DOC to not take the case at all. “Our checks following the DOC delay suggest one of the easiest ways for this case to be struck down would be to establish that the petitioners do not have the legal right to be the requestor,” opined Shen.