According to the ministry, the final decision reaffirms the importance of strict enforcement of trade laws. The ministry said that some companies that have not been investigated are also evading import duties.
Last March, the ministry initiated an investigation into the violation of import duties after Axin Solar submitted a request for enforcement and investigation. Import duties on Chinese solar panels will be avoided via Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, the company said. In December, the department released preliminary investigation results and found 4 manufacturers guilty.
Companies manufacture solar cells and solar panels in China and then ship them to Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and/or Vietnam for processing before exporting them to the United States.
The US sees this as an attempt to avoid existing anti-dumping and countervailing duties on solar cells and solar panels from China. During the last six months, individual audits were conducted to verify previous information based on preliminary survey results. Additionally, companies have an opportunity to comment on the Ministry’s findings. The Ministry has now found 5 of the 8 companies under investigation to be guilty. Compared to the previous investigation, only the New East Solar position has changed. While the company was previously found not guilty of evading import duties, it is now the case.
No immediate effects
These final investigation results have no immediate implications at the US border. President Biden’s Presidential Proclamation, which has invoked martial law to facilitate imports from 4 Asian countries, states that import duties on solar cells and solar panels from the affected countries will be waived until June 2024.
The ministry says this gives U.S. importers enough time to repair supply chains and ensure they are not sourcing from companies violating U.S. law.
Nationwide Circular Discovery
Incidentally, the ministry maintains its ‘national’ circular. With this, the ministry has identified 4 Southeast Asian countries as export destinations for solar cells and solar panels from China.
The ministry has not banned the import of solar cells and solar panels from these countries, but companies in these countries must prove through certification that they are not guilty of evading anti-dumping and countervailing duties.
Industry structure is important
Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), criticizes the ministry. “Auxin Solar’s allegations of evasion were unsubstantiated from the start and the investigations have created uncertainty at a time when solar power is on the rise in the U.S. market. Due to insufficient domestic supply of solar cells and solar panels, the final confirmation findings perpetuate current supply issues.
3 to 5 years
“The U.S. is experiencing a billion-dollar solar energy renaissance thanks to inflation-reducing legislation that encourages private investment. However, it will take at least 3 to 5 years to ramp up domestic solar generation capacity and the global supply chain will be critical in the short term. The lawsuit will make it harder for U.S. companies to continue to deploy, finance, and install solar power.
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