In response to the US investigation of the supposed dumping by Chinese solar panel manufacturers, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that it would also start an investigation on US subsidies and policies regarding the renewable energy industry.
This is the latest dispute between the two largest economies in the world, which have accused each other of hurting various industries from fasteners to chickens to tires. The latest Chinese investigation will cover hydro, wind and solar power products and equipment as well as programs in various states, such as New Jersey, Ohio, California, Washington, and Massachusetts. The ministry said that the probe would start on Friday and end on May 25. It could be extended to August 25, depending on the circumstances.
Chinese companies requested for the probe. They claimed that the US policies violated the obligations under the World Trade Organization rules and hurt the competitiveness of Chinese alternative energy products in the US market.
China’s commerce ministry said that the United States should not blame its own problems on China. He added that China is unhappy with the US probe on China’s renewable energy products. Any anti-dumping steps that the United States would do in the solar power sector would turn into a lose-lose situation.
The United States Commerce Department said earlier this month that it is investigating the claims made by US solar-panel makers that Chinese companies have been dumping their products on the US market. This could raise the chance that Washington could impose additional tariff on the Chinese imports.
Germany-based SolarWorld AG filed a complaint last month on behalf of itself and six other solar panel manufacturers. They claimed that Chinese rivals sell solar panels in the United States market at prices below the cost of production in order to get majority of the market share. Chinese government allegedly gave illegal subsidies to local firms.
By 2010, China leads the rest of the world with its $48 billion investment in new investments in renewable energy. This led to the decrease of the prices of PV modules per megawatt by an average of 60 percent since 2008. This made solar energy cost-competitive with the retail price of electricity in some countries.
Aside from the US Commerce Department investigation, the US International Trade Commission will also conduct a review of the allegations and would come out with an initial ruling by December 5 on whether
Chinese manufacturers are hurting the US solar industry.