BEIJING, Dec. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- On October 19, seven U.S. photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturers led by SolarWorld Industries America Inc. filed a petition with the U.S. Government for the initiation of antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations on crystalline silicon PV cells imported from China. The U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce initiated the investigations on October 19 and November 8 respectively.
China-based PV industries express their strong opposition to the petition for the investigations, holding that the petition is a distortion of the current situation of China-based PV industries and their export of PV products to the U.S., and that any trade restrictive measures that may be imposed will unavoidably cause serious impairment to the sustainable development of the green energy industries as well as consumer's interests both in China and the U.S. China-based PV industries have formed a united front to counter the investigations and will defend their interests vigorously. For this purpose, China-based PV industries jointly make the following statements through China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME).
I. A Free International PV Market Is Crucial to the Cause of Global Environmental Protection
PV energy is the hope for the two billion people living in areas that lack or have insufficient availability of electricity. The following global understandings were entered into at the Bonn Conference in 2004: to explore and utilize renewable energy as a means toward achieving economic development and poverty alleviation, to promote energy safety and multiple energy resources, to reduce carbon emissions, and to address climate change. PV energy is a clean and safe energy that features zero emission and zero consumption, and therefore has immeasurable prospects of wide application. It has become an irreversible global trend to develop and utilize PV energy to serve the sustainable development of the human race.
Looking ahead, an open, free and fully competitive international PV product market is crucial to the continuous decrease of the prices of PV products and PV energy. Any man-made trade-restrictive measures or trade barriers will deteriorate the prospects of the international PV market in the long term, impair consumer's welfare, and eventually cause significant negative impacts to the cause of global environmental protection.
II. Chinese PV Industries Are an Important Component of the Global PV Industry Chain and Have Made Tremendous Contribution to the Development of the U.S. and Global PV Industries
Chinese PV industries have made tremendous contribution to the development of the global PV energy market. On one hand, for a long period of time, the high costs of PV energy have restricted its application worldwide as an alternative to traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources. The rapid growth of Chinese PV industries has been a tremendous driving force globally for the decrease of PV energy costs, and made the goal of grid parity a real possibility. On the other hand, during the last decade, Chinese PV companies have been devoted to the R&D of PV technologies, and played an important role in the application of latest PV technologies in production, for example saving of energy and water consumption during production process through the use of metallurgical grade poly-silicon technologies, and improving cell efficiency through SE, MWT technologies.
The development of the Chinese PV industry has been an extraordinary driving force for the development of the global PV industry supply chain. The global output of poly-silicon, a key raw material in cell production, increased to 160,000 tons in 2010 from less than 20,000 tons in 2004.
Much of the raw materials and equipment used by Chinese PV companies are imported from the U.S. and Europe. To produce PV products, Chinese companies spend USD 2 billion annually to import raw materials such as poly-silicon, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and silver paste, among other inputs, from the U.S. The PV industry equipment imported from the U.S. to China and the technology licensing costs paid by Chinese companies were no less than USD 3 billion in 2010.
PV cell and module imports from China also make significant contribution to the development of downstream industries in the U.S., particularly PV power plant installation. All these activities have created a significant number of jobs in the U.S. Therefore, if the U.S. Government imposed any definitive trade restrictive measures, it would cause significant losses to the upstream and downstream industries and consumers in the U.S., only to the benefit of a small fraction of U.S. PV cell companies such as SolarWorld.
It is another noteworthy fact that, compared with in the U.S., the contribution of Chinese PV product exports to the upstream and downstream industries and local employment is even greater in Europe, and European industries have achieved rapid growth by using Chinese products. The benefits that the European Union has received from imports from China far outweigh the interests it may receive from protecting certain industries that lag behind.
III. Growth of Chinese PV Product Exports to the U.S. Results from Competitive Advantages on the Market, Not Dumping or Subsidies
In recent years, the export of Chinese PV products to the U.S. has been growing steadily, and U.S. users, from utility developers to ordinary consumers, welcome Chinese PV products because of their high cost-performance ratios, advanced technologies and reliable qualities. The underlying reason for the commercial success of Chinese PV companies in the U.S. is their competitive advantages on the market, not low-price dumping or government subsidies.
The competitive advantages of Chinese PV companies are primarily attributed to the concentration of the PV industry chain in China, and Chinese PV companies' relatively more efficient management systems, more advanced manufacturing technologies, larger production scales, and forward-looking business strategies.
The U.S. and many European countries have been providing various forms of support to their domestic green energy industries, compared with which the Chinese Government has provided a much smaller amount of support to Chinese PV industries. In fact, SolarWorld has been a beneficiary of government support programs in the U.S. and Europe. Incomplete statistics show that SolarWorld received tax breaks and public subsidies worth of USD 43 million in the U.S. in one single new facility project in Oregon in 2007, and received governmental aids in the amount of 73.15 million Euro, 18.75 million Euro and 45 million Euro in the EU in 2003, 2010 and 2011 respectively.
IV. Chinese Export of PV Products to the U.S. Does Not Cause Injury to U.S. Domestic Industry
The drop of crystalline silicon PV cell and module prices in the U.S. is primarily the result of the drop of the price of poly-silicon due to global oversupply. In addition, competition of thin-film PV cells, incentive policies and financial aids of the Federal and state governments in the U.S., consumer's demand, competition of other alternative energies have also contributed to the drop of crystalline silicon PV cell and module prices.
There is no evidence that the petitioner, SolarWorld, has suffered any injuries. On the contrary, it has been making profits and expanding capacities, outputs and sales. SolarWorld reported profitability in 2010, and achieved robust growth in the first half of 2011. SolarWorld's lay-off of employees in its California facilities was due to its relocation of facilities to Hillsboro, Oregon in response to the incentives provided by the Oregon State Government. The Q3 financial report of SolarWorld indicates that its employment in the U.S. grew by 11% in 2011.
Even if some European and U.S. PV companies, such as SolarWorld, are underperforming in some aspects, such underperformance has nothing to do with the exports of Chinese PV companies, but instead is because of their misjudgment of the growth opportunities in the market. From 2009 to 2011, the global PV production capacity grew significantly and beyond the demand of the global market. Due to reduced incentives, improper investment decisions and lack of scale, certain PV companies have found themselves in a disadvantageous position in the market competition. It is a normal phenomenon in market competitions. These frustrated companies should revisit and adjust their own business strategies, elevate their production and management levels, and meet the consumer's demand in a better way. They should not raise ill-founded AD/CVD investigations in the hope of creating obstacles to the normal operation of Chinese PV companies.
The solar industry in the U.S. generates approximately 100,000 jobs, while in comparison SolarWorld provides only 1,000 jobs. If the U.S. market were denied access to PV cell products of competitive prices, the other 99,000 jobs would be put into a dangerous situation. That is exactly why SolarWorld's petition is opposed by U.S. companies from upstream raw material and equipment suppliers to downstream distributors and users, environmental protection organizations and climate experts.
V. U.S. PV Industries Strongly Oppose the Petition by SolarWorld
SolarWorld, the lead petitioner of the ongoing AD/CVD investigations, is a U.S. subsidiary of a German company, not an indigenous U.S. company, and the other 6 petitioners even have never identified themselves publicly. Therefore, these petitioners only account for a very small fraction of the U.S. PV companies, and cannot represent the position of the mainstream U.S. PV companies.
U.S. PV industries have greatly benefited from Chinese PV cell and module exports to the U.S., and therefore strongly oppose the petition by SolarWorld. U.S. PV industries have formed an organization named Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), which has been joined by 101 U.S. companies that cover every segment of the U.S. solar industry chain. CASE member companies accuse SolarWorld of attempting to destroy the progress that has been achieved in the global PV industries in the last several decades and to threaten the tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S., and request SolarWorld to withdraw the petition.
Chinese PV companies herby avow that their fight in the investigations is directed against the few petitioners led by SolarWorld only, not the entire U.S. PV industry. Chinese PV companies have no intention to initiate a trade war in China against the U.S. PV industry. On the contrary, Chinese PV companies view themselves and U.S. PV companies equally as important components of the global PV industry chain, and will continue to seek cooperation and common development with U.S. PV companies guided by mutual benefit and win-win philosophies.
VI. Chinese PV Companies Take Confidence in Vigorously Defending Themselves in the Investigations
U.S. PV companies did not raise AD/CVD petitions several years ago when the Chinese PV companies had only small volume of exports to the U.S. and their competitiveness was low. In recent years, the competitiveness of Chinese PV companies has grown significantly, and certain U.S. PV companies and U.S. subsidiaries of European PV companies have failed to adapt themselves to this new competition situation and have to seek protection from AD/CVD investigations. Therefore, the Chinese PV companies take a very positive attitude on their fight against the investigations, holding that the investigations, if seen from an objective angle, are a recognition and reflection of the gradually increasing competitiveness of the Chinese PV companies in the U.S. market.
It is the firm belief of the Chinese PV companies that their commercial success in the U.S. originates from fair competition, not any unfair competition practices. Therefore, they take confidence in vigorously defending themselves in the investigations, and will make every effort in doing so. Chinese PV companies will continue to strengthen their competitiveness in the U.S. market, serve the U.S. market with PV products with high cost-efficiency, advanced technologies and reliable quality, and make contribution to the long-term sustainable development of the U.S. and global PV energy markets.