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Timothy Brightbill Comments on China’s Efforts to Avoid U.S. Taxes on Solar Panels

The International Herald Tribune
August 6, 2013

Timothy C. Brightbill, a partner in Wiley Rein’s International Trade Practice, was quoted in an article on August 1 in The International Herald Tribune about Chinese companies’ efforts to avoid paying high U.S. tariffs on solar panels.

Last October, the U.S. imposed tariffs of between 24% and 36% on imported Chinese-made solar panels to curb unfair trade practices known as dumping.  However, many manufacturers have circumvented the tax by buying cells from Taiwan, a neutral party in the trade conflict that does not face the same U.S. penalties.

Solar manufacturing is booming in Taiwan, which is now expected to also benefit from a new agreement between China and the European Union, in which China agreed not to sell solar panels for below 56 euro cents per watt.  The low price is considered advantageous to both Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers, and could be a devastating blow to U.S. companies.

Meanwhile, The International Herald Tribune reports that the U.S. Department of Commerce is investigating whether Chinese companies are accurately reporting that their solar panels were built outside of China.  “We think the more they look, the more they will find large-scale evasion and circumvention by China solar producers,” said Mr. Brightbill, part of the Wiley Rein team that represented U.S. solar manufacturers in the trade remedy case brought against China in 2011.

“We’re asking for the strongest enforcement efforts possible so that U.S. companies and workers can see real benefit from these trade cases,” Mr. Brightbill added.  “There’s been some benefit, but they’re still being harm by pricing that is not sustainable.”