WASHINGTON, June 3 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday set preliminary subsidy rates on imported photovoltaic products from China, signaling that it may impose punitive duties on the products.
The department made its preliminary affirmative determination that Chinese producers and exporters of crystalline silicon photovoltaic products received countervailing subsidy rates ranging from 18.56 percent to 35.21 percent.
Punitive duties would be imposed after both the Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) made affirmative final rulings, which are scheduled on Aug. 18 and Oct. 3, respectively. If the ITC makes a negative determination, the investigations will be terminated.
The investigations are in response to the petition filed by SolarWorld Industries America Inc. based in Oregon, which alleged that crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from China were sold below the fair value of the products in the U.S. market, while Chinese producers and exporters also received "improper" government subsidies.
The crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from China under investigation were estimated at 1.5 billion U.S. dollars last year, according to U.S. official data.
It was the second U.S. investigation against Chinese photovoltaic products after a similar one in 2011, which seriously affected the Chinese photovoltaic industry and hindered the development of U.S. photovoltaic application market.
"These damaging tariffs will increase costs for U.S. solar consumers and, in turn, slow the adoption of solar with the United States," Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the U.S. solar energy industries association said in a statement. "It's time to end this needless litigation with a negotiated solution that addresses SolarWorld's trade allegations while ensuring the continued growth of the U.S. solar market."
China's photovoltaic industry also issued a joint statement last month, opposing the United States' second anti-dumping and countervailing investigations on Chinese photovoltaic products. The statement called for the U.S and China to solve the disputes through negotiations.
China's Ministry of Commerce has reiterated its calls for the United States to objectively and fairly handle ongoing solar trade disputes, honor its commitment against protectionism and work with China to maintain a free, open and just trade environment.