Anti-Circumvention Duties and Solar Panels

Anti-Circumvention Duties and Solar Panels

December 02, 2022 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC and Stefan Reisinger in Washington, DC

The Commerce Department said this morning that it made a preliminary decision to impose anti-circumvention duties on solar panels and cells produced in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia using Chinese parts.

Commerce named four panel suppliers that it said are circumventing US duties on Chinese solar panels by routing them through factories in Southeast Asia.

The four are BYD (Cambodia), Canadian Solar (Thailand), Trina (Thailand) and Vina Solar (Vietnam).

It also released the names of another 22 companies that it concluded are circumventing US duties because they failed to respond to information requests.

It concluded that four panel suppliers have truly shifted manufacturing to Southeast Asia and, therefore, are not circumventing US duties. The four are New East Solar (Cambodia), Hanwha (Malaysia), Jinko (Malaysia) and Boviet (Vietnam).

Duties will not be collected from other panel suppliers as long as they certify that they are not circumventing US anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

Approximately 80% of solar panels imported into the United States during 2021 came from the four Southeast Asia countries and fewer than 1% came from China. The US has been collecting anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese panels since 2012.

The current China-wide rate for anti-dumping duties is 238.95% and for countervailing duties is 15.87%. Many manufacturers are subject to significantly lower anti-dumping duties after demonstrating to Commerce that their dumping margins are lower than the China-wide margin. Chinese-made panels are considered “dumped” if they are sold in the US for less than they are sold in China. The tariff amounts are revisited annually.

Imported Southeast Asian panels will be treated as Chinese if they are made from wafers produced in China and have more than two other components produced in China. The other components are silver paste, aluminum frames, glass, backsheet, ethylene vinyl acetate sheets and junction boxes.

Wafers produced outside China with Chinese polysilicon will not be considered Chinese wafers.

Commerce said it will conduct in-person audits of Southeast Asian factories to verify its preliminary findings. Commerce will issue a final determination on its findings around May 1, 2023.

The Biden administration took some of the sting out of today’s determination by preemptively waiving any anti-circumvention duties Commerce decided to impose for two years. The moratorium will apply to solar panels imported through June 5, 2024.

Imported panels must be used in projects by December 3, 2024. Commerce does not want the moratorium used to stockpile equipment significantly ahead of actual need. It said in an email that “used” means installed.

US panel manufacturer Auxin petitioned the Commerce Department on February 8, 2022 to investigate whether Chinese panels are being routed through Southeast Asia to avoid high duties on direct imports from China.