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SolarWorld president pushes ‘Halftime in America’ review of tactics to offset trade predation on U.S. manufacturing

Gordon Brinser calls for faster, more focused response to illegal trade incursions

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 27, 2012 – In a speech here today, Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., recommended revisions in the U.S. government response to incursions of predatory trade aggression from non-market economies such as China, as a move toward rekindling U.S. manufacturing and jobs. The need for policy updates, Brinser said, comes as China amasses a new magnitude of economic might and its central planners increasingly target pivotal U.S. industries.

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Speaking for SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer since 1975, Brinser offered his recommendations during an address at the Conference for the Renaissance of American Manufacturing at the National Press Club in Washington, immediately following a speech by Gene Sperling, director of the White House’s National Economic Council. The event drew more than 250 attendees with professional and policy interests focused on ties between domestic manufacturing and U.S. trade and commercial law.

Speaking from experience since Oct. 19 in leading anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases against China and its state-sponsored industry, Brinser framed his remarks around Clint Eastwood’s role in a car-company TV commercial that ran at half-time of the Super Bowl in February in which Eastwood proclaimed that it is “half-time in America.” “If we really want to come out a winner,” Brinser said, “we have to take a hard look at how we adjust our game plan.”

Brinser was referring to an emerging problem confronting American manufacturing: “How can the United States continue to benefit from an open global marketplace as the vastly different system of state-sponsored capitalism in China emerges as an economic power and increasingly targets our strategic industries?”

In answer to that question, Brinser suggested the U.S. government must sharpen and speed its practice of identifying, investigating and remedying illegal trade practices and develop a better strategy to address foreign state-owned enterprises and how they affect U.S. industries and markets.

More specifically, Brinser recommended that the government:

  • Use its new Interagency Trade Enforcement Unit to closely monitor import data for early signs of market distortions spurred by foreign governments.
  • Look hard at ways to preserve an open, transparent process for trade cases but in fewer steps and less time.
  • Aggressively find ways to anticipate and halt circumvention of trade remedies and theft of intellectual property.
  • Bring legitimate cases for industries that are too small or injured to afford them.
  • Shed light on foreign companies that raise capital on U.S. exchanges and then withhold audit information from securities regulators.

“We can do better. And we must do better,” Brinser said. “But first, we must take a stand.”

SolarWorld is advancing trade cases against China’s state-sponsored solar industry with support from more than 180 companies representing more than 15,000 employees. In a preliminary ruling on Dec. 2, the U.S. International Trade Commission voted 6-0 that Chinese trade practices had hurt the U.S. manufacturing industry. In a preliminary ruling on March 19, the Department of Commerce determined that 10 Chinese subsidy programs violated international trade law; it also imposed preliminary duties averaging 3.75 percent and retroactive 90 days to neutralize the illegal subsidies’ impact on the U.S. industry. Commerce will rule May 16 (and announce May 17) whether to impose duties to offset any illegal dumping of solar products at artificially low prices and, if so, at what percentage margins.

Read the full transcript of the speech » 
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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. 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 publicly traded on the stock market since 1999. For more information, visit www.solarworld-usa.com.

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