Sat, Feb 08, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Ministry rejects Chinese ‘help’ on solar-cell suit

US PROBE:Chinese solar-cell companies’ request to represent Taiwanese firms could damage the interests of local firms, a Taiwanese industry association said

By Helen Ku and Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporters

The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday said it would help local solar companies deal with a US anti-trust investigation, adding that Chinese firms cannot represent Taiwanese companies in the investigations.

The ministry’s statement came after several solar-cell manufacturers on Thursday asked the government for help after learning that their Chinese rivals had applied to the US government to act as their legal representatives in the case.

“By rule, Chinese firms are not eligible to act as legal representatives of their Taiwanese counterparts in an anti-dumping investigation,” Bureau of Foreign Trade official Chen Wen-cheng (陳文誠) said by telephone.

Neo Solar Power Corp (新日光) president Sam Hong (洪傳獻) and several other local solar-cell makers met with ministry officials on Wednesday night to discuss the Chinese companies’ move, Chen said.

Hong is also the chairman of the Taiwan Photovoltaic Industry Association (台灣太陽光電產業協會).

Last month, German photovoltaic product vendor SolarWorld AG filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and the US Department of Commerce, asking the authorities to conduct anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into several solar-cell manufacturers, including Taiwan-based Neo Solar Power and Motech Industries Inc (茂迪).

In an earlier complaint filed in 2012, SolarWorld only targeted Chinese solar-cell makers.

On Dec. 31 last year, SolarWorld AG filed another complaint with the ITC and the commerce department asking the authorities to close a loophole in trade remedies issued more than a year ago.

The loophole enabled Chinese producers to circumvent duties averaging 31 percent by assembling modules from cells manufactured in third countries, SolarWorld said in a statement.

Chen said the ministry would submit an official request to the ITC stating that “Chinese solar-cell makers cannot speak for their Taiwanese counterparts.”

“Taiwanese companies should be able to safeguard their own interests, and not by foreign companies,” he said.

The Taiwan Photovoltaic Industry Association yesterday said that its members are strongly opposed to the Chinese companies’ move.

“We have to safeguard our own interests by talking directly to the US officials, rather than through our Chinese peers,” an association official said by telephone yesterday.

“The Chinese firms could make concessions at the expense of Taiwanese companies,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

The association said it had set up a special task force to deal with the US investigation.

Local market researcher TrendForce Corp said it is highly likely that Taiwanese makers of solar wafers, cells and modules would be found guilty of dumping and hurting the interests of US solar firms in the initial ruling scheduled later this month.

Taiwanese firms could face high punitive duties on solar exports to the US in subsequent rulings scheduled next month and in June, TrendForce said.

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