Tariffs on Chinese solar panels put US jobs at risk - DuPont

22 March 2012 23:09  [Source: ICIS news]

EVA is used in the manufacture of membranes in solar photovoltaic panels.HOUSTON (ICIS)--DuPont is concerned that US tariffs levied on Chinese-made solar panels will drive up their cost and threaten American manufacturing jobs, the company said on Thursday.

DuPont’s Innovalight unit sells technology to solar panel producers, including those in China. The company has a sales office in China.

 In a prepared statement, DuPont said that it was concerned over the potential outcome of a recent antidumping and countervailing duty case against Chinese manufacturers of crystalline silicon solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.

“Actions that would increase the cost of solar panels would harm US parts and materials producers and energy consumers and could put many solar industry jobs in the US and elsewhere at risk,” the DuPont statement said.

Earlier this week, the US International Trade Administration (ITA) said it would impose tariffs of 2.9­–4.73% on solar panels made in China. The US tariffs will offset alleged subsidies that Chinese manufacturers receive.

The ITA started the investigation after a filing by SolarWorld Industries Americas, which calls itself the largest solar manufacturer in the US.

But the tariffs announced this week are insignificant compared with the 50-100% duties that SolarWorld sought, according to the author of a study on the issue.

Mark Berkman, author of the report and principal at the research firm Brattle Group, said his study considered tariffs of 50%-100% because such duties were what Solarworld originally sought.

The report by Mark Berkman, author of the report and principal at the research firm Brattle Group, said a 50% tariff would shut out the majority of Chinese imports from the US and result in a job loss of 15,000 to 50,000 workers - even accounting for US production gains.

However, Berkman said the tariffs levied this week, of roughly 3-5%, are insignificant and mainly symbolic.

“I can’t imagine that it’s going to move things much on either side,” Berkman said.

The Brattle study was commissioned by a US solar group, the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), which opposes the tariffs sought by SolarWorld.

SolarWorld alleged that in addition to Chinese producers receiving subsidies, the producers were also dumping product in the US. The ITA still has to decide on the dumping allegations.

There could be more tariffs against the Chinese products as a result of the dumping allegations.

Another solar group, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the decision on anti-dumping would not be made until May.

“If the tariffs remain at these levels, we do not think that this will have a material impact on the US market,” said Rhone Resch, president of the SEIA in a prepared statement.

Photovoltaic cells use materials made with chemicals such as ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyvinyl butyral (PVB) and metal pastes.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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