In June this year, the US Department of Commerce Imports of Merchandise database shows Chinese imports stood at $99.6mn, 60% down on the $241.5mn registered in June 2011. The June 2012 total was down 20% on the May’s $124.1mn. The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) says the decline reflects “market recognition of the costs, risks and uncertainties associated with importing Chinese solar PV products”.
Despite the year-on-year decrease - which CASM notes is partly due to sharply falling module prices - Chinese imports for 2012 overall are still ahead of last year’s record. For the first six months of 2012, Chinese cell and panel imports reached $1.32bn, up 7.3% on the $1.23bn for the same period in 2011. The increase is “significant”, says CASM, “given that dumped and subsidised Chinese pricing has lowered the per-watt average import values so dramatically during in 2011 and 2012”.
June was the first month in which Chinese manufacturers have been fully affected by both preliminary anti-subsidy duties of up to 4.74% on Chinese cells and panels (announced by the Department of Commerce in March) and prelinary anti-dumping duties ranging from 31-249.96% (announced in May). The 31% rate applies to specifically named producers and exporters with others not listed by the department having to pay the higher rate of duty. The anti-subsidy duties are retroactive to December 27th 2011, while the anti-dumping duties are retroactive to February 25th.
The department is continuing its investigations regarding the actual amount of dumping that occurred during the second and third quarters of 2011 and the amount of subsidies that benefitted the Chinese solar industry during 2010. The results of these will be announced on October 9th. Additionally, the department has reported that both Wuxi Suntech and Trina Solar were “not creditworthy” at various times during the review period, CASM adds. China's government has, in the meantime, taken action to safeguard the future of its domestic firms, increasing targets at home.
In the wake of the US action on Chinese products, imports from other countries were up, including Malaysia ($113.2mn, up almost 96% year-on-year). Much of this increase was due to imports by US thin film producer First Solar, which is not subject to antidumping and countervailing duties. Imports from Taiwan ($32.4mn) and the Philippines ($39.2mn) also increased.
Written by Robin Whitlock