Shah said the difficulties experienced by Hemlock are being felt throughout the industry. Solar manufacturing and installation relies on a global supply chain that requires some components to start in the U.S., get assembled in China, then come back across the Pacific for final touches.
"Many of [CASE's] members are going to have to lay people off," Shah said. "But the real layoffs are coming from people who aren't getting hired...Raising prices on solar modules mean that many of the projects we've already signed are going to become uncompetitive."
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SolarWorld argues that Chinese manufacturers are heavily subsidized by Beijing, and therefore can out-price competitors around the globe. In 2012 the U.S. government decided in favor of imposing tariffs on Chinese firms because of complaints from Solarworld—and the most recent decision seeks to close a loophole to that first ruling.
That loophole, SolarWorld and the Commerce Department both said, is that Chinese firms would outsource one piece of the manufacturing process to Taiwan to avoid the tariffs when exporting to the United States.
"These remedies come just in time to enable the domestic industry to return to conditions of fair trade," Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld, said in an announcement following the Commerce Department decision. "The tariffs and scope set the stage for companies to create new jobs and build or expand factories on U.S. soil."
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But CASE argued that the addition of a third country to the ongoing trade dispute will just confuse the supply chain, and hurt the growth of solar technology across the world. The state of play raises the possibility that a third country could find itself in the crosshairs of the standoff between China and the U.S.
"When SolarWorld went after China we thought it would be the end of it, but now they're going after one of the U.S.'s staunchest allies in Taiwan," Shah said. "We have no idea where the madness will stop—there's no rhyme or reason to how these trade cases are going down."
Shah said he hopes the White House will come to agree with CASE's outlook, and will act to "promote free trade around the world, particularly on climate change initiatives."
The new duties on Chinese and Taiwanese solar products will go into effect around Feb. 1.