Sen. Brown Urges Probe Into Chinese-Owned Solar Firms

Congressional Democrats are calling on the Biden administration to investigate alleged unfair trade practices by Chinese-owned companies in the solar industry.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, penned a June 4 letter to David Johnson, chairman of the International Trade Commission, and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, expressing support for the antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) petitions filed by the American Alliance for Solar Manufacturing Trade Committee (Alliance).

The Alliance includes companies such as Convalt Energy, First Solar, Hanwha-Q Cells, Meyer Burger, Mission Solar, REC Silicon, and Swift Solar. It represents the domestic solar manufacturing industry and supports roughly 34,000 workers.

According to the letter, Chinese-owned companies operating in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam have engaged in market-distorting practices, including illegal subsidies, that allegedly harm the U.S. solar industry, which is the target of the petition.

Mr. Brown’s letter highlights concerns over China’s efforts to circumvent U.S. trade laws by subsidizing manufacturing facilities in countries within Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (also known as “One Belt, One Road”), thereby avoiding targeted trade enforcement. Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam accounted for 84 percent of solar panel imports in the fourth quarter of 2023.

“China has subsidized the construction of manufacturing facilities in other countries, particularly those within their Belt and Road Initiative, such as Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam,” Mr. Brown wrote, adding that “These are Chinese-owned factories, operated by Chinese companies, making solar panels and cells with Chinese materials all with one goal: to circumvent U.S. trade law.”

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The letter underscores the lawmaker’s assertion of the solar industry’s strategic importance, noting that China’s dominance could pose significant energy security risks and stifle domestic job growth. According to Mr. Brown, China’s solar industry, with deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), produces over 90 percent of solar-grade polysilicon and controls more than 99 percent of the global production capacity for wafers.

“China’s dominance of the solar supply chain creates significant energy security risks, in addition to stifling domestic job growth and harming American manufacturing potential,” Mr. Brown stated. “This industry cannot reach its full potential in the U.S. if China’s companies operate as a one-nation solar cartel.”

The senator called for consideration of the issue of solar imports, warning that failing to address it comprehensively could lead to production shifts by Chinese-headquartered producers to other countries.

Near the end of his comments, the Senate Banking Committee chairman said, “We support the Alliance’s AD/CVD petitions to give the U.S. solar industry its chance to shine.”

Concerns that electric vehicles (EVs) manufactured in China would wipe out the American auto sector prompted Mr. Brown to urge President Joe Biden earlier this year to outlaw all EVs manufactured in China.

The letter is also signed by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).

In a letter to the president on April 11, Mr. Brown expressed concern that affordable, heavily subsidized EVs from China could pose a threat to the American economy and national security.

“I implore you to take bold, aggressive action and to permanently ban EVs produced by Chinese companies or whatever subsidiaries they establish to conceal their origins,” he wrote.

The senator from Ohio cautioned that the CCP’s playbook renders tariffs insufficient to avert the inundation of the U.S. market by Chinese automobiles.

Currently, the United States imposes a 27.5 percent tariff on Chinese EVs. This encompasses a 2.5 percent import tariff and an additional 25 percent tariff implemented during the Trump administration and subsequently renewed during the Biden administration.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission for comment.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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