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China firms knock US duties on solar products

22 march 2012, 18:31
Solar panels. ©AFP
Solar panels. ©AFP
Chinese firms have accused the United States of setting up trade barriers after Washington slapped duties on their solar products in the latest trade row between the two countries, AFP reports.

Washington said Tuesday it would collect duties of between 2.9 and 4.7 percent on Chinese solar cells and panels, in a preliminary ruling following an investigation over whether producers received unfair financial support.

US companies have accused China of improperly subsidising its solar sector as part of a no-holds-barred commercial battle for supremacy of the lucrative market.

But Chinese makers denied the findings and accused the United States of erecting obstacles to trade.

China's Suntech, the world's largest solar panel producer, said its success was based on "free and fair" competition.

"Unilateral trade barriers, large or small, will further delay our transition away from fossil fuels," Chief Commercial Officer for Suntech Andrew Beebe said in a statement provided to AFP on Wednesday.

Another Chinese company, Yingli Solar, defended its business practices.

"We are not dumping (predatory pricing), nor do we believe that we are unfairly subsidised," Robert Petrina, managing director of Yingli's US subsidiary, said in a statement.

The US Department of Commerce is due to announce more findings in May for a parallel investigation into whether Chinese makers are dumping underpriced solar cells into the United States.

China's commerce ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the dispute.

The US moves come as Washington steps up efforts to protect domestic manufacturers from Chinese products that it also alleges benefit from an artificially undervalued currency.

Last month, US President Barack Obama took direct aim at China when he ordered the creation of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center to expedite unfair trade complaints from US business.

The United States this week also confirmed duties on steel wire and brightening agents used in paper production from China.

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