China’s Ministry of Commerce will begin an antidumping investigation into imports of U.S.-made and Korean-made polysilicon, the stuff that is used to make crystalline solar cells. The investigation follows complaints from GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. (OTC: GCPEF), LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) and Daquo New Energy Corp. (NYSE: DQ).
The investigation announcement comes after the U.S. imposed duties of around 35% on solar panels imported from China. The Chinese government threatened to retaliate if the U.S. imposed duties.
The primary targets of the Chinese probe likely will be Hemlock Semiconductor Group, a U.S.-based company majority-owned by Dow Corning Corp., Korea’s OCI Corp. and MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. (NYSE: WFR). U.S. solar makers First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) and SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) would not be affected by the tariffs.
China’s polysilicon and solar panel makers have been struggling with overcapacity and consequent low prices. LDK Solar may be the hardest hit, and it earlier this week received an unspecified amount of money from the local government in the company’s home city of Xinyu to repay some of its outstanding debt.
The falling cost of solar panels and innovative financing have increased the amount of solar installed in the United States and created a lot of jobs in the solar installation business. Duties and tariffs that raise prices for solar panels almost surely will have a negative impact on the installation business. It is not called a trade war for nothing.