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SolarWorld confident as US nears China solar panel decision

WASHINGTON -- U.S. solar panel producers, who have already won preliminary duties on billion of dollars of solar panel imports from China, appear well positioned to win longer-term relief in coming weeks as the U.S. government makes its final decisions.

The high-profile case, which has been copied by producers in Europe and spawned threats of retaliation from Beijing, now largely turns on whether the U.S. International Trade Commission finds U.S. manufacturers have been “materially injured,” or are threatened with material injury, by the imports.

“We feel we have a very strong injury case,” Tim Brightbill, lead attorney for SolarWorld Americas and other U.S. producers, told Reuters ahead of an ITC hearing on Wednesday to examine the case before the panel votes in early November.

“The impact on the domestic industry has just been devastating. I think we're unfortunately up to 13 companies where there has been either a shutdown or a bankruptcy or significant work layoffs due to the Chinese imports,” he said.

The U.S. Commerce Department, which has set combined preliminary duties of roughly 35 percent on most Chinese solar panels, will make a final decision on duties on Oct. 10.

That would set the stage for the final ITC vote in early November. reject duties but it does occur. At least four commissioners would have to change their votes from last year, when the panel voted 6-0 that there was a reasonable indication of material injury.

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