U.S. considers anti-dumping probe into Southeast Asian solar cells


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Seven global solar manufacturers accuse Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia of dumping solar panels and batteries on the United States market and call for imposing import tariffs, while directly implicating Chinese companies behind the scenes. Solar energy is believed to be a new battleground in the U.S.-China tech war.

The American Alliance for Solar Manufacturing Trade Committee (AASMTC), composed of seven companies including First Solar, Convalt Energy, Mission Solar, and Swift Solar from the United States, Hanwha QCells from South Korea, Meyer Burger from Switzerland, and REC Silicon from Norway, submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce on April 24. The petition calls for the Biden administration to investigate solar suppliers from four Southeast Asian countries.

The petition argues that Chinese photovoltaic companies have established facilities in these countries to circumvent U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports and are dumping their products into the U.S. market at lower prices, with Vietnam being considered the most favorable haven for this practice.

Citing U.S. Customs data, the petition highlights a significant surge in solar panel imports from Vietnam in 2023, reaching $4.2 billion, which accounted for approximately 26% of total imports in that category. It specifically names 60 companies in Vietnam alleged to have received unfair subsidies through China's Belt and Road Initiative.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is expected to decide within a few weeks whether to initiate anti-dumping investigations. If the allegations are substantiated, Vietnam could potentially face anti-dumping margins as high as 271.45%. This not only threatens local solar investments but also impacts solar installations in the United States due to increased costs of imported equipment components.

The Economist suggests that the next phase of the technology war between the U.S. and China will likely manifest in two key areas: semiconductor industry and green technologies.

Due to potential unintended consequences of U.S. actions, such as inadvertently accelerating China's technological development, it is feared that this could deepen the divide between the two countries in information and energy technology. This, in turn, could result in slower economic growth and decarbonization efforts.

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