On January 23, 2014, Commerce initiated antidumping ("AD") and countervailing duty ("CVD") investigations on certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. The petition, filed on behalf of SolarWorld Industries America, Inc., targets over $1.5 billion combined in estimated annual imports.

SolarWorld filed the new petition with the hope of closing loopholes resulting from its previous trade action involving crystalline silicon photovoltaic (c-Si PV) cells. As discussed in the November 2011 and November 2012 editions of the Trade & Manufacturing Alert, SolarWorld successfully obtained combined AD and CVD duties in excess of 30 percent on c-Si PV cells exported from China to the United States in 2012. This earlier trade case, however, did not reduce import volumes to the levels sought by SolarWorld, because Commerce determined that Chinese solar modules that contained C-Si PV cells manufactured in Taiwan were not included in the scope of the case. Taking advantage of the loophole, many Chinese solar producers modified their input sourcing in order to avoiding paying AD and CVD duties. The new case targets the growing imported solar products that contain solar cells manufactured in Taiwan. The new case also seeks to expand the product coverage to include Chinese or Taiwanese modules that are made from ingots, wafers or partially manufactured cells sourced from China or Taiwan. 

The new solar cases on China are unusual in that the scope of the new case overlaps with the scope of 2012 solar case. It is not clear how Commerce will handle that situation. In similar situations dealing with pipe products, Commerce has re-defined the scope to ensure that there is no overlap.

The new case is the latest round in a series of global trade cases on solar products. The European Union and China reached a negotiated settlement after both countries filed trade cases against each other on solar related products. Currently, the United States has AD and CVD order on c-Si PV cells from China, and China has AD and CVD orders on polysilicon from the United States. The United States and China, however, have not reached a similar agreement.