A legal update from our colleague Gary Glisson:
United States importers and purchasers of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules (“solar cells”) now face increased prices when sourcing their supplies from China. A recent order issued by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration imposing an antidumping duty rate of 250% tariff against the Chinese solar cell industry generally, and a lower but increased “separate rate” of 31% tariff on 61 named Chinese manufacturers and exporters, is starting to be felt by the U.S. solar energy construction industry.
Although the order, dated May 25, 2012 (“May Order”) was widely reported in the U.S. solar industry press, many overlooked its retroactive effect to 90 days prior to the May Order—February 25, 2012. It was an unwelcome surprise to some U.S. solar equipment importers, lenders, installers and others involved in the financing and construction of solar energy projects when the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency began issuing notices of additional duties owed and started collecting the difference between the prior regular duty rate of up to 3.5% of the import price and the 31% or 250% tariffs imposed by the May Order. This means that solar cells imported into the United States and subject to the May Order will be charged either an additional 31% or 250% of their value. Many U.S. buyers who received shipments or placed orders for Chinese-made solar cells and related equipment between February 25 and May 25 were not expecting the significant increase in cost due to the new tariff rates.