By JOE McDONALD, Associated Press
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese producers of solar power equipment on Friday rejected an American anti-dumping ruling in a case that threatens to worsen U.S.-Chinese tensions. They warned proposed punitive tariffs might hurt efforts to promote clean energy.
The United States and China have pledged to cooperate in developing renewable energy but accuse each other of violating free-trade pledges by subsidizing their own manufacturers.
"Tariffs are disruptive and destructive for the entire solar industry," said chairman Miao Liangsheng of Yingli Green Energy Holdings Ltd., one of China's biggest solar equipment manufacturers, in a statement.
Yingli and two other manufacturers, Suntech Power Holdings Co. and Trina Solar Ltd., rejected Thursday's preliminary Commerce Department ruling that they sold solar cells and panels below fair price in the United States and hurt American producers.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce issued an announcement labeled "Warning" to solar equipment makers with details of the U.S. ruling but made no comment on it. The ministry did not respond to questions about how Beijing might respond.
If the ruling is upheld, tariffs averaging 31 percent could be imposed on Chinese solar-panel imports.
Such duties "are not justified by fact," said Andrew Beebe, Suntech's chief commercial officer, in a statement.
China's producers of solar cells and equipment grew to be among the world's biggest over the past decade as they supplied demand from Germany, Spain and other markets that promoted solar power.
Foreign competitors complain Chinese manufacturers get improper government support in the form of low-cost access to land, bank loans and other resources. Beijing acknowledges giving research grants and tax breaks but says those are in line with its free-trade commitments and practices by other governments.
"These duties are unwarranted and serve as an impediment to the broader adoption of solar energy in a time of rising fuel costs," said Trina's chief commercial officer, Mark Kingsley, in a statement.
The Commerce Department launched its investigation in November following complaints by a group of U.S. producers led by Oregon-based SolarWorld Industries America Inc., a unit of Germany's SolarWorld AG.
The complaints were amplified by attention surrounding the bankruptcy of solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC after the California-based company received a $528 million U.S. government loan. Solyndra cited Chinese competition as one of the reasons behind its failure.
The Chinese government responded by launching its own probe last November into whether U.S. government support for producers of wind, solar and other renewable energy technology is an improper trade barrier.
Chinese solar equipment manufacturers warned earlier that sanctions could result in a loss of American jobs because U.S. companies are both buyers of Chinese products and suppliers of materials. They said Chinese manufacturers spend some $2 billion a year to buy materials such as polysilicon from U.S. suppliers.
Suntech Power Holdings Ltd.: http://www.suntech-power.com
Yingli Green Energy Holding Co.: http://www.yinglisolar.com
Trina Solar Ltd.: http://www.trinasolar.com