May 30 (Renewables Now) - The US has officially notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its investigation into imports of photovoltaic (PV) cells, whether or not assembled into other products, which may result in the introduction of "safeguard" tariffs.
Under the WTO definition, safeguard measures are “emergency" actions with respect to increased imports of particular products, where such imports have caused or threaten to cause serious injury to the domestic industry.
The US investigation began after the International Trade Commission (ITC) accepted a petition by US solar cell and module maker Suniva for global safeguard relief from imports of crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells. The injury determination is due by September 22 and a report to the President will follow by November 13.
The petition says that the value of annual imports of crystalline silicon (c-Si) cells and modules to the US has jumped by 62.8% between 2012 and 2016 to USD 8.3 billion (EUR 7.5bn). It further alleges that 1,200 US manufacturing jobs have been lost and wages have fallen by 27% in the 2012-2016 period.
According to the petition “imports have prohibited the domestic industry from benefitting from the growth in US demand and are a substantial cause of the serious injury that the domestic industry has experienced.”
SolarWorld Americas Inc is a co-petitioner in the Section 201 safeguards case. Its German parent, SolarWorld AG (ETR:SWV), initiated insolvency proceedings in May. Suniva filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 17.
Several months ago SolarWorld warned that a new wave of overcapacity and dumping “orchestrated by the Chinese government”, plus circumvention activities and other violations, are again threatening the US solar manufacturing industry.