US Commerce Department Rejects Anonymous Petition for Tariffs on Asian Solar Imports

The group's anonymity was cited as the reason for the rejection

November 16, 2021


The US Department of Commerce has rejected a circumvention petition filed by an anonymous group of domestic solar manufacturers known as American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention, or A-SMACC, seeking an inquiry into the imports of solar products produced in Chinese-owned factories in Asia.

The Department of Commerce pointed explicitly to the companies’ anonymity that comprised A-SMACC and said it was the driving factor behind the petition’s rejection. The group had argued that identifying its members could expose them to retribution from the Chinese industry.

The department held that names of A-SMACC members should be publicly identified so that interested parties could comment on the nature of their business and how it related to the case. It also rejected A-SMACC’s attempt to target specific companies instead of countries or regions.

On August 16, 2021, A-SMACC asked the Department of Commerce to initiate a circumvention inquiry on imports of solar products produced in Chinese-owned factories in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand.  It argued that imports of solar modules produced in Chinese-owned factories in these countries should be subject to the current anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders on Chinese cells and modules.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) had opposed the petition by the anonymous group. It said that the United States solar industry could miss out on 18 GW of solar deployment by 2023 due to steep duties proposed by the group. The petition sought 50-250% duties on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) panels and cells from Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. These countries account for 80% of overall panel imports of the US.

Solar manufacturers in India had filed a similar petition but under the aegis of the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA), a registered association of companies engaged in manufacturing solar cells and modules. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry had announced that the Directorate General of Trade Remedies had initiated an anti-dumping probe on imports of solar cells imported from China, Vietnam, and Thailand.

According to the DGTR notification, there was positive evidence of the effect of price undercutting, price suppression, and price depression on the domestic industry.