Portman, Brown Urge Commerce Secretary to Accept Anti-Circumvention Petition, Support U.S. Solar Manufacturing & Ohio Jobs

March 9, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging her to accept the anti-circumvention petition alleging that Chinese solar companies have moved manufacturing to countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam to circumvent our Antidumping and Countervailing Duty (AD/CVD) orders against Chinese-made solar cells and modules.

“A strong commitment to American manufacturing must be paired with proper trade enforcement so that investments in American production, workers, and innovation are not undermined by unfair trade practices. That is why the Department of Commerce must fully and fairly examine these allegations of illegal and unfair circumvention of our trade remedy laws,” wrote the senators.

The senators’ Leveling the Playing Field 2.0, which they introduced last April, will strengthen U.S. trade remedy laws and ensure they remain effective tools to fight back against unfair trade practices and protect American workers. The senators’ legislation would establish the new concept of “successive investigations” to improve the effectiveness of the U.S. trade remedy system in responding to repeat offenders and serial cheaters, helping to level the playing field for American workers.

The full letter can be found here or below.

Dear Secretary Raimondo:

We write to encourage you to accept the recently filed petition from a minority-and-woman-owned business related to solar cells and modules imported in circumvention of the existing antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders on Chinese solar cells and modules. A strong commitment to American manufacturing must be paired with proper trade enforcement so that investments in American production, workers, and innovation are not undermined by unfair trade practices. That is why the Department of Commerce must fully and fairly examine these allegations of illegal and unfair circumvention of our trade remedy laws.

In trade remedy cases, the length—on average 14 months from first filing to relief—makes clear that justice delayed is justice denied. Yet, even timely justice can be thwarted by circumvention, which has been a consistent strategy of anticompetitive global actors seeking to escape the requirements imposed by U.S. law. Therefore, after the International Trade Commission (ITC) finds that there is evidence of unfair trade, the Department of Commerce must ensure that the decision by the ITC stands. When duties have been imposed on specific products from specific countries, unfairly traded imports should not then be able escape our AD/CVD orders by being routed through additional third countries. Congress provided anti-circumvention authority to Commerce in 1988 to ensure that injured domestic industries obtained the full relief of the trade remedy laws and not just half loaf.

In this instance, a U.S. manufacturer alleges that after imposition of AD/CVD orders against Chinese-made solar cells and modules, Chinese companies established new operations in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia to escape the strictures of U.S. trade remedy law and maintain control over the global solar supply chain. As we understand it, these operations use raw materials, labor, capital investment, and research and development from China. Moving to a third country to assemble a product with inputs from the country subject to the original AD/CVD order is textbook circumvention. As you know, if legitimate circumvention allegations go unaddressed, entire domestic industries and thousands of American manufacturing jobs are at risk.

Strong enforcement of our trade laws to level the playing field on which American companies and workers can compete lays the foundation to rebuilding a robust solar industrial base in the United States. Thank you for your consideration of our request, and we thank you for your diligence in this circumvention inquiry.

Sincerely,

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