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US deepens solar tariff probe with 2 firms in Thailand among 8 companies facing added scrutiny

The United States Commerce Department is deepening its probe into whether solar power companies are circumventing import tariffs, singling out some of the industry’s giants for increased scrutiny.
US deepens solar tariff probe with 2 firms in Thailand among 8 companies facing added scrutiny
Eight firms producing solar panels located in four Southeast Asian countries, including two in Thailand, is under investigation by the US Commerce Department after complaints about cheap imports by US manufacturers. (File photo: Bangkok Post)
Eight firms producing solar panels located in four Southeast Asian countries, including two in Thailand, is under investigation by the US Commerce Department after complaints about cheap imports by US manufacturers. (File photo: Bangkok Post)

The United States Commerce Department is deepening its probe into whether solar power companies are circumventing import tariffs, singling out some of the industry’s giants for increased scrutiny.

The agency identified eight manufacturers, including industry leaders Longi Green Energy Technology Co, Trina Solar Co and Jinko Solar Co, for mandatory questionnaires to plumb for more information on whether they are skirting US tariffs on China-made solar products by assembling them in Southeast Asia. 

The eight companies, located in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, were asked to submit information by May 27, including their ownership structure and source of materials for production processes, according to letters that the department posted on its website.

The department has until Aug 29 to issue preliminary findings in the circumvention case, with the extended deadline for a final determination in April 2023.

The Solar Power World reported on Friday that two Thailand-based companies targeted by the agency were idenfitied as Canadian Solar and Trina Solar. The companies from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were selected on the basis of their high export volumes to the US, it added.

An online search by the Bangkok Post found Canadian Solar Manufacturing Thailand Co in Sri Racha district in Chon Buri province and Trina Solar Science & Techonology (Thailand) Co in the Amata City Rayong industrial park in Pluak Daeng district of Rayong.

The US investigation also includes units of Hanwha Q CELLS Co and BYD Co, as well as New East Solar Energy Co and Boviet Solar Technology Co.

Longi, the world’s largest solar company by market capitalisation, is being targeted through its Vietnamese unit Vina Solar Technology Co.

The probe has already roiled the US solar industry and thrown a wrench into decarbonisation plans, with companies halting projects and cancelling shipments in the face of potentially hefty extra tariffs. The world’s largest solar manufacturers, mostly based in China, are diverting their focus and products to the rising European market amid the US disruptions.

Thailand's Commerce Ministry said last month it planned to protest against the US investigation.

In 2021, Thailand shipped US$1.07 billion worth of solar cells to the US, making up 49% of the country's total solar cell exports.

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