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The US Department of Commerce Selected Eight Photovoltaic Companies including LONGi as the Focus of Anti-circumvention Investigation
May 17, 2022 16:57CST
On May 13, the US Department of Commerce released the list of mandatory respondents to the ongoing anti-circumvention investigation (AD/CVD). The department is investigating the solar cell and panel makers in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam that use Chinese modules and whether the companies circumvented Chinese tariffs in the process. The department sent out a questionnaire in early-April for export details. 

SHANGHAI, May 17 (SMM) - On May 13, the US Department of Commerce released the list of mandatory respondents to the ongoing anti-circumvention investigation (AD/CVD). The department is investigating the solar cell and panel makers in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam that use Chinese modules and whether the companies circumvented Chinese tariffs in the process. The department sent out a questionnaire in early-April for export details. 

A total of 76 questionnaires were distributed (Cambodia: 12, Malaysia: 20, Thailand: 18, Vietnam: 26) and two companies in each country will be further investigated. The Commerce Department chose these companies because of their large exports to the United States. 

The eight companies are: 

Cambodia: BYD and New East Solar

Malaysia: Hanwha Q CELLS and JKS 

Thailand: CSIQ and Trina Solar 

Vietnam: Boviet Solar and Vina Solar Technology (LONGi) 

Among them, Boviet Solar and NewEast Solar are both Chinese photovoltaic companies, and Vina Solar Technology is controlled by LONGi . The Commerce Department said that because each affected country has a large number of exporters or producers, it is impractical to examine each enterprise individually to determine whether the enterprise is circumventing AD/CVD as it need a lot of resources to examine all of these exporters or producers. 

The US Department of Commerce will delve into the manufacturing and export processes of the eight companies and investigate whether any Chinese  wafers, silane, silver paste, solar glass, aluminum frames, junction boxes, EVA sheets and backsheets are used in exported cells and modules, and whether the eight companies have direct ties to Chinese manufacturers , suggesting an attempt to circumvent AD/CVD. 

According to the plan, the US Department of Commerce will submit the preliminary findings of the investigation and the preliminary tariff rates for all importers of affected products on August 30, 2022, and make a final decision on January 26, 2023. 

Recently, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) issued a memorandum to provide important clarifications regarding its anti-circumvention investigations against manufacturers that use imported solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The memorandum mentioned that the silicon wafers produced through Chinese polysilicon outside of China are not subject to the investigation. 

On February 2, the US Auxin Solar Company submitted a petition, requesting the US Department of Commerce to thoroughly investigate the solar energy products imported from four South-east Asian countries, namely Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia, The company argued that Chinese companies assemble solar energy products in these regions and then export to the United States so as to maintain low production costs, which circumvent the existing AD/CV tariff sanctions. So that the US Department of Commerce launched a nationwide circumvention investigation in these regions on March 25, 2022, and if violations are found, tariffs of 50-250% will be imposed on solar panels entering the United States. 

The response of the US Department of Commerce this time stated that the solar cells and modules under investigation may have been produced in multiple countries, and some of them may have used Chinese products. For example, the PV module production process requires polysilicon to be refined, ingot cast, and then sliced​into solar cells and assembled with many other materials. Different parts of the production process may be carried out in different countries, and the silicon wafers produced by Chinese polysilicon outside the Chinese region are not subject to these circumvention investigations. 

According to PVinfolink prices data, at the end of April, in terms of selling prices of modules in the United States, the export from south-east Asia to the United States did not deliver much due to the blockage of shipments. In addition, due to the supply shortage of modules in the United States, south-east Asian manufacturers will raise prices this week to amortize possible losses brought by anti-evasion tax rate. As a result, the average price slightly increased by $0.33-0.34 yuan/watt (FOB), while the prices in the United States continued to rise to about $0.5-0.55/watt (about 3.3-3.63 yuan). 

According to PV-Tech, on the consumer side, the current spot price of modules in United States has reached $1/GW (about 6.6 yuan/GW). According to local solar energy expert, as the anti-circumvention investigation continues, the prices of modules in United States are expected to rise to $2/watt in the second half of the year amid the pandemic and transportation problems. After the US Department of Commerce decided to launch anti-circumvention investigation on south-east Asian countries, the SEIA slashed its forecast for US solar energy capacity over the next two years by 24 GW and said that 100,000 job positions in the solar energy field will disappear. 

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