A lot has happened in the past few months to make the solar panel AD & CVD landscape even more convoluted. I’ve created a diagram to help illustrate what I believe to be the current situation regarding AD and CVD duties on solar panels.
There are a couple of flavors of solar panels that may be imported and depending on the details, may be subject to AD and/or CVD.
1.) Solar panels manufactured in China using Chinese solar cells are covered under A-570-979.
2.) Solar panels manufactured in anywhere (including China) using Taiwanese solar cells are covered under A-583-853.
3.) Solar panels manufactured in China using solar cells that have their essential material background in China (example: ingots and / or wafers) fall under a new AD & CVD case (A-570-010 and C-570-010).
4.) Solar panels manufactured in China using solar cells that are completely of origin other than China or Taiwan are currently excluded outside the scope of any of the cases mentioned above. HOWEVER, it is the importer’s responsibility to be able to prove that the solar cells are completely made in a country other than China or Taiwan. Most recently, Customs has begun requesting documents and information such as the following:
Name and address of the actual manufacturer of the solar panels
Country of origin of the solar cells
Production records / bill of materials related to the manufacture of the goods (including solar cells)
Manufacturer purchase invoices related to the materials incorporated into the goods with particular focus on the cells incorporated into the goods,
Cell lot number(s)
Cell manufacturing date
Plant location of the cells
Serial numbers for the cells
Cell specification sheets including cell physical dimension and cell material type
Purchase orders and contracts
Certificate of Origin for the solar cells
The AD & CVD landscape may be changing even further as the DOC looks into possibly closing loophole#4 mentioned above.
Importers of solar panels are very much aware that solar panels manufactured with Chinese made solar cells are subject to Antidumping and Countervailing duties. Most are also aware than an exception to the AD and CVD duties is if the solar panels are manufactured using solar cells sourced from other countries. We have seen a number of imports of solar panels from China this past year using solar cells manufactured in Taiwan. Importers have used this method to avoid the AD and CVD duties on Chinese manufactured solar panels.
Unfortunately, this door may be closing. The U.S. ITC has determined that there was injury to the U.S. solar industry from the Taiwanese solar industry. They have approved further investigation into an AD case regarding Taiwanese solar products with a preliminary AD duty determination due on or around June 9, 2014.
Importers of solar panels using Taiwanese solar cells are urged to proceed with caution. Despite the June 9, 2014 Preliminary Determination date being more than three months away, there is the possibility that the ITC will determine Critical Circumstances exist thereby allowing the AD duties to be retroactively applied three months from the date of the Preliminary Determination. While it is difficult to predict whether or not the ITC will determine Critical Circumstances, in this case there is history supporting the possibility. The ITC did find and impose Critical Circumstances for the original AD & CVD case on solar panels from China. Importers who think they can rush a shipment into the United States within the next three months before the Preliminary Determination may find that the AD duties are retroactively applied to their shipments during that time period.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Great World Logistics (GWL)
Great World Customs Service
SolarWorld, on behalf of a coalition of U.S. domestic solar manufacturers, has submitted new AD and CVD cases to the ITC for review. This time around, the AD and CVD cases are broadened to cover both China and Taiwan. This is an attempt to close what SolarWorld has argued is a loophole in the original AD and CVD cases that were issued one year ago. The loophole allowed Chinese manufactured solar panels to enter into the U.S. without being subject to AD or CVD duties if they were manufactured in third countries. You can read more about SolarWorld’s justification in their news release.
What is important to understand is that by creating a case that includes Taiwan directly, SolarWorld is doing more than just closing a loophole. This is an attack on solar modules and solar cells from Taiwan, whether or not they are shipped indirectly through Chinese products. The Taiwanese solar industry is essentially the victim of collateral damage from the solar trade war between the U.S. and China. Since the U.S. instituted AD and CVD duties on Chinese solar modules last year, the Chinese government has responded by beginning their own AD and CVD investigations of U.S. polysilicon (a key raw material in solar module production) exports to China.
Note that as during the first AD and CVD investigation, not everyone in the U.S. solar industry supports this trade war. The Solar Energy Industries Association, a broad based coalition of solar companies in the United States that includes researchers, installers, and manufacturers, has spoken out against the new AD and CVD case. They would like to see a compromise to end this dispute.
The ITC has until February 14, 2014 to make a preliminary injury determination. It is extremely important that importers of solar modules made directly or indirectly from Taiwan solar cells follow this news closely. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
It seems like a month can’t by without another AD and/or CVD case being brought against a product coming from China. The latest product is “hardwood plywood.” If this product sounds familiar, you may be getting it mixed up with the AD/CVD case that was opened last year.
Some interesting facts about this investigation:
This case against hardwood plywood was brought by a collection of U.S. manufacturers, The Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood. They claim to represent about 80% of the domestic plywood market.
They are represented by the same counsel, Jeff Levin, that let the establishment of AD and CVD duties on engineered wood flooring.