October 11, 2012 - 11:42 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - China demanded Thursday, Oct 11, that Washington repeal steep tariffs on solar panels that Chinese producers fear will shut their equipment out of the American market, The Associated Press reported.
The tariffs upheld Wednesday by the U.S. Commerce Department add to financial pressure on struggling Chinese solar panel manufacturers that are suffering heavy losses due to weak demand and a price-cutting war.
"The United States is inciting trade friction in new energy and sending a negative signal to the whole world about protectionism and obstructing the development of new energy development," Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said in a statement. It gave no indication whether Beijing might retaliate.
"We hope the U.S. side will correct its erroneous action with early termination of the trade remedy measures," Shen said.
The Commerce Department upheld charges of 18 percent to nearly 250 percent on Chinese solar panel producers to counter what it said was improper subsidies by Beijing to the industry. For some companies, charges are lower than preliminary tariffs announced in May.
A spokesman for one of China's biggest panel producers, Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., said tariffs of about 30 percent imposed on that company would make sales to the United States unprofitable. He said gross profit margins in the solar industry are about 10 percent.
"A tax rate of 30 percent is the same as 200 percent. Both of them mean the door is closed for exporting to the United States," said the spokesman, Wang Shuai. "No one does business to lose money."
The Chinese solar panel industry grew rapidly over the past decade as Germany, Spain and some other countries promoted renewable energy with subsidies and low-cost loans.
The latest U.S. tariffs were imposed in response to a complaint by a group of companies led by Oregon-based SolarWorld, the largest U.S. maker of silicon solar cells and panels. Some American companies that opposed the probe warned China might retaliate against U.S. suppliers.
Chinese solar equipment manufacturers warned earlier that sanctions could result in a loss of American jobs because U.S. companies are both buyers of Chinese products and suppliers of materials. They said Chinese manufacturers spend some $2 billion a year to buy materials such as polysilicon from U.S. suppliers.
Beijing responded to the investigation by launching its own probe last November into whether U.S. government support for producers of wind, solar and other renewable energy technology is an improper trade barrier.
In August, the Commerce Ministry ruled that U.S. support for six clean energy projects violated free trade rules and called on Washington to stop but made no mention of possible penalties.