On December 31, 2013, SolarWorld Industries America Inc. petitioned the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission to begin antidumping investigations against the People's Republic of China and Taiwan and a countervailing duty investigation against the People's Republic of China, relating to crystalline silicon photovoltaic products ("solar cells"). The petition alleges, among other things, that Chinese and Taiwanese solar producers have conspired to circumvent the 2012 antidumping and countervailing duties against solar cells from China.

The purpose of this petition, according to petitioners, is to close a "loophole" in a previous antidumping order against Chinese modules. The previous order applied only to modules which contained  Chinese solar cells.  The current petition seeks to apply to modules made of certain components made in either China or Taiwan.

The scope of the petition is as follows:

The merchandise covered by this investigation is crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including building integrated materials. For purposes of this investigation, subject merchandise also includes modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells completed or partially manufactured within a customs territory other than that subject country, using ingots, wafers, or partially manufactured cells sourced from the subject country.

Subject merchandise includes crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells of thickness equal to or greater than 20 micrometers, having a p/n junction formed by any means, whether or not the cell has undergone other processing, including, but not limited to, cleaning, etching, coating, and/or addition of materials (including, but not limited to, metallization and conductor patterns) to collect and forward the electricity that is generated by the cell.

Excluded from the scope of this investigation are thin film photovoltaic products produced from amorphous silicon (a Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS). Also excluded from the scope of this investigation are any products covered by the existing antidumping and countervailing duty orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules, from the People's Republic of China — case numbers A-570-979 and C-570-980.

The timing and amount of any potential duties has yet to be determined, however, importers could risk incurring duties, if any, on imports as early as March, 2014. As a result, it is prudent for U.S. importers and buyers of solar PV panels to gain a clear understanding of the potential impact and applicability of these new cases and to structure their contracts to mitigate any risk.

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