By Eric Martin – Dec 30, 2011 9:07 AM MT
Wind-tower producers from China and Vietnam are selling their renewable-energy equipment below cost in the U.S., according to an attorney for American producers that petitioned the U.S. to impose anti-dumping duties.
“The Chinese and Vietnamese industries are using unfair pricing practices to capture critical sales from the U.S. industry,” Alan Price, an attorney at Wiley Rein LLP representing the Wind Tower Trade Coalition, said in a statement on the complaint filed yesterday with the U.S. International Trade Commission and Commerce Department.
The law firm also represents the U.S. unit of SolarWorld AG (SWV) in a pending complaint on imports of Chinese solar panels. The new petition, on metal towers that hold turbines aloft at wind farms, expands an international dispute over pricing and government subsidies for alternative energy.
The wind-tower complaint was filed by Broadwind Energy Inc. (BWEN); Otter Tail Corp. (OTTR)’s DMI Industries; a unit of Trinity Industries Inc.; and Katana Summit, Price, who is based in Washington, said in an interview.
The wind-tower companies also filed a countervailing-duty complaint against China. The U.S. uses more than 300 anti- dumping and countervailing duty orders to shield American-made goods, from honey to bedroom furniture, against global competition it deems unfair and damaging to U.S. companies. About half the orders target iron and steel products.
Anti-dumping duties apply to goods sold overseas at or below the price in the home country. Towers from China sell at 64 percent of their normal value and those from Vietnam at 59 percent, according to the petition by the U.S. companies. Countervailing duties aim to offset the benefits of government subsidies to industries.
China accounts for a third of all U.S. actions on imports, the most of any country, including about 100 anti-dumping and more than two dozen countervailing duty orders, according to the U.S. trade commission.
Calls and e-mails seeking comment from Broadwind spokesman John Segvich weren’t immediately returned. DMI Industries’ Belinda Forknell couldn’t be reached by telephone. An e-mail to the Chinese embassy wasn’t immediately returned, and a phone call to the Vietnamese embassy wasn’t answered.
Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology Co. (2208), China’s second-biggest maker of wind turbines, relies on U.S. sources for its expansion there, Colin Mahoney, a spokesman for Goldwind USA, said in an e-mail.
The company’s Shady Oaks project in Illinois used towers made in Texas and Wisconsin, Mahoney said. “In one case, as a result of the Shady Oaks project, a U.S. manufacturer retained and rehired positions it had previously eliminated,” he said.
The U.S. trade commission took the first step toward adding tariffs on Chinese solar imports on Dec. 2, saying subsidies for the products harm equipment makers such as Bonn-based SolarWorld.
Chinese solar-equipment makers have said tariffs sought by U.S. competitors would make it harder to expand the use of renewable energy.
China and the U.S. are among nations encouraging the use of renewable-energy sources, driving costs down, so it would be unfair to penalize China, Richard Weiner, an attorney for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, told investigators with the U.S. trade commission in Washington on Nov. 8.
Solyndra LLC, a California maker of solar panels that received $535 million in U.S. loan guarantees, blamed cheap Chinese imports for its collapse in September.
Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP) and Trina Solar Ltd., two of the biggest China-based makers of crystalline silicon panels, have argued against duties. China-based Yingli Green Energy Holding Co.’s U.S. unit, Canadian Solar Inc.’s U.S. unit and San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy also have argued against the tariffs.
“The United States will do everything we can to defend our core interest and make sure our manufacturers are not discriminated against or put in to a competitive disadvantage because of another country’s industrial policy,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Nov. 7 in an interview. “All we ask, we want everybody to play by the rules.”
The Obama administration filed a trade complaint against China at the World Trade Organization in December 2010 over its support for wind-energy manufacturers through aid tied to the use of locally produced content. China agreed to end hundreds of millions of dollars in such subsidies, the U.S. trade office said in June.
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