U.S. trade officials said on Friday that certain Chinese solar panel makers were dodging tariffs by finishing their products in four Southeast Asian countries, a result of a months-long investigation.
The preliminary decision means that certain big suppliers of solar panels to the US market will be subject to duties on products made in Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, causing additional costs for American project developers that buy those products.
The four countries account for about 80 per cent of U.S. panel supplies.
The U.S. Commerce DepartmentCommerce Department found that units of BYD Co Ltd, Trina Solar Co Ltd, Longi Green Energy Technology Co Ltd and Canadian Solar Inc were able to circumvent the tariffs.
The duty rates that the United States already assesses on Chinese-made products will be applied to those companies and others, officials said. The United States has had tariffs on Chinese solar cells and panels for a decade.
Auxin Solar, a small U.S. solar panel maker, requested the Commerce investigation in February. It was the latest in a string of efforts by U.S. solar panel producers to stem the flow of cheap Asian goods that they argue make their products uncompetitive.
Commerce's investigations have largely confirmed and validated Auxin's allegations of Chinese cheating, Auxin Chief Executive Mamun Rashid said in a statement.
New East Solar, Hanwha Q CELLS, Jinko Solar and Boviet Solar were not allowed to dodging the tariffs, Commerce said.
A final decision is expected in May.
Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in an emailed statement that Commerce didn't target all imports from the subject countries. This is a mistake we will have to deal with for the next several years. The moratorium was imposed by President Joe Biden earlier this year after solar companies said the threat of tariffs was freezing projects nationwide.
The White House said the waiver was meant to allow U.S. manufacturing time to ramp up.