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SolarWorld and coalition of U.S. solar manufacturers petition to stop unfair trade by China’s state-sponsored industry

Group led by SolarWorld aims to stop loss of U.S. manufacturing and jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 19, 2011 – Representing a coalition of seven U.S. manufacturers of solar cells and panels, SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the largest domestic producer, today petitioned the federal government to halt what the company describes as an ever-rising tide of heavily subsidized solar cells and panels that China’s state-supported solar industry is illegally dumping into the American market.

The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing – representing a significant majority of U.S. production of crystalline silicon solar cells and panels – filed complaints today with the U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission seeking relief from China’s illegal trade practices. The complaints aim to end China’s decimation of U.S. solar manufacturing and jobs.

The cases, which allege dumping margins well in excess of 100 percent as well as massive subsidies, are among the largest against China – and the largest in renewable-energy industry history.

“Artificially low-priced solar products from China are crippling the domestic industry,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., based in Hillsboro, Oregon. “As the strongest and most experienced U.S. producer, SolarWorld is leading the effort to hold China accountable to world trade law.”

“China’s systematic campaign to dismantle the U.S. industry has cost thousands of jobs in Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania,” Brinser said. “China’s wrongful tactics run systematically across the board; central planning has subsidized most facets of these companies’ business. China actually has no production cost advantage. Labor makes up a modest share of solar-industry costs, China’s labor is less productive, its raw material and equipment have come from the West and China must pay for long-distance shipping. Yet, massive state subsidies and sponsorship have enabled Chinese manufacturers to illegally dump their products into a wide-open U.S. market.”

The petitions allege that the Chinese government – its state-controlled financial, utility and other institutions intermingled with its solar manufacturing industry – has deployed an arsenal of land grants, contract awards, trade barriers, financing breaks and supply-chain subsidies to advance its pricing and export aggression. China exports nearly all of its production to benefit from other markets’ consumption incentives while increasing output and impeding imports. Along the way, it also sidesteps U.S.-level manufacturing standards for labor, quality, and the environment.

Imports of Chinese crystalline solar cells and panels rose more than 300 percent from 2008 to 2010. In July 2011 alone, exports exceeded those from all of 2010. In the first eight months of 2011, Chinese imports into the United States totaled $1.6 billion. Over the past 18 months, seven U.S. employers have shut down or downsized, not counting cutbacks among manufacturers of a variety of new solar technologies known as thin films.

Since 2006, SolarWorld has pursued a course of investment and expansion, creating hundreds of jobs in Oregon and California to undertake all solar-industry manufacturing steps – without loans, guarantees or subsidies from the federal government. SolarWorld employs more than 1,100 at its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing plant in Hillsboro, Ore., and its commercial hub for the Americas in Camarillo, Calif.

The company is leading a group of seven domestic manufacturers, including SolarWorld, representing American manufacturers and employers in virtually all regions of the country. The coalition’s website can be found at www.americansolarmanufacturing.org; its email address is contact@americansolarmanufacturing.org. SolarWorld and the coalition are both represented by the Washington, D.C., law firm Wiley Rein LLP.

SolarWorld Real Value

SolarWorld manufactures and sells solar power solutions and in doing so contributes to a cleaner energy supply worldwide. As the largest solar producer in the United States and Europe, SolarWorld employs about 3,200 people and carries out production in Hillsboro, Ore., and Freiberg and Arnstadt, Germany. From the raw material silicon to solar wafers, cells and panels, SolarWorld manages all stages of production ‒ including its own research and development. Through an international distribution network with locations in the United States, Europe, Singapore and South Africa, SolarWorld supplies customers all over the world. The company maintains high social standards at all locations across the globe and is committed to resource- and energy-efficient production. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, SolarWorld was founded in 1998 and has been publically traded on the stock market since 1999. For more information, visit www.solarworld-usa.com.

Media Contact

Devon Cichoski
Media relations manager
SolarWorld Industries America
4650 Adohr Lane
Camarillo, CA 93012
Mobile: 805-377-2905
Office: 805-388-6388
devon.cichoski(at)solarworld-usa.com