US duties on Chinese solar products draw mixed response | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 21.03.2012
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US duties on Chinese solar products draw mixed response

German solar panel producers have welcomed a decision by the US Department of Commerce to collect duties on Chinese solar products. The move came in response to allegedly unfair Chinese subsidies.

Producers of solar technology around the world have taken note of a US decision to levy duties on solar products from China. Washington had announced it would collect duties of between 2.9 and 4.7 percent on Chinese solar cells and panels.

In Germany, solar technology producer Solarworld welcomed the US Department of Commerce's preliminary ruling, which was the result of initial investigations into whether Chinese competitors had been receiving unfair financial support from the state.

The Department of Commerce is to announce more findings in May for a parallel probe into whether Chinese makers are dumping underpriced solar cells in the United States.

Bonn-based Solarworld said on Wednesday the imposition of duties was good news for the company's US subsidiary in Hillsboro, Oregon, which had joined a petition against distorting Chinese export subsidies. The CEO of Solarworld's US subsidiary, Gordon Brinser, commented the US Administration "understands that Chinese export subsidies on the solar market jeopardize and destroy jobs".

Chinese firms not amused

But Chinese solar technology makers denied the US findings and accused the United States of erecting obstacles to trade. The world's largest solar panel producer, Suntech of China, said its success was based on free and fair competition.

"Unilateral trade barriers - large or small - will further delay our transition away from fossil fuels," Suntech's Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Beebe, told AFP news agency.

Yingli Solar, another Chinese company, also defended its business practices. "We're not dumping, nor do we believe that we are unfairly subsidized," said the firm's Managing Director, Robert Petrina.

The US-Chinese trade row over solar products comes amid a larger campaign by Washington to protect domestic manufacturers from Chinese goods, which are also believed to benefit from an artificially undervalued currency.

hg / mll (AFP, Reuters)