Just weeks after the U.S. Commerce Department slapped a 31% tariff on 61 Chinese crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell producers and exporters, it imposed preliminary duties of as high as 26% on imports of utility-scale wind towers from China.

The Commerce Department said that a countervailing duty (CVD) investigation petitioned for by the Wind Tower Trade Coalition (WTTC )—which comprises Wisconsin-based Broadwind Towers, North Dakota-based DMI Industries, Katana Summit, and Dallas-based Trinity Structural Towers—had shown Chinese producers and exporters had received countervailable subsidies of 13.74% to 26%. "As a result of the preliminary affirmative determination, Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to collect a cash deposit based on these preliminary rates," the department said in a statement.

The investigation covers wind towers with a minimum height of 50 meters and with generation capacities of more than 100 kW. According to the department, the U.S. imported an estimated $222 million worth of wind towers from China in 2011.

In particular, CS Wind Corp. and affiliated entities received a preliminary net subsidy rate from the Chinese government of 13.74%, whereas Titan Wind Energy (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. (Titan Wind); Titan Lianyungang Metal Products Co. Ltd. (Titan Lianyungang); Baotou Titan Wind Energy Equipment Co., Ltd. (Titan Baotou); and Shenyang Titan Metal Co., Ltd. (Titan Shenyang) (collectively, Titan Companies) received a preliminary net subsidy rate of 26%. All other Chinese producers/exporters received a preliminary net subsidy rate of 19.87%.
 
The department is expected to make a final determination on the investigation this August. If the U.S. International Trade Commission also makes an affirmative final determination (expected in September), the Commerce Department will issue a CVD order.

The WTTC’s case was filed on December 29, 2011. It alleges that unfairly subsidized wind towers from China are materially injuring the U.S. wind tower industry. In companion antidumping investigations, the WTTC alleges that imports of utility scale wind towers from China and Vietnam are also being unfairly dumped in the U.S.

“This is an important step in remedying the harm caused by unfairly traded wind tower exports,” said Alan H. Price, chair of Wiley Rein’s International Trade Practice and lead counsel to the WTTC. “We look forward to further relief when antidumping duties are announced in about two months."

Earlier this month, the Commerce Department slapped a 31% tariff on 61 Chinese PV producers and exporters with slight variations by company—tariffs much higher than the 2.9% to 4.7% levied on Chinese solar panel imports by the Commerce Department in March, after it concluded from a CVD investigation that the Chinese government provided illegal subsidies for its industry.

China has criticized the tariffs. "Readily resorting to protectionist measures is not conducive to China and the U.S. continuing to cooperate in the trade and economic fields," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters in Beijing last week.
Sources: POWERnews, Commerce Department