Sens. Brown and Portman Call on Administration to Protect Ohio Energy Companies From Unfair Tariffs to Ensure Competitiveness in International Marker

Brown and Portman Continue to Fight for Ohio’s Manufacturers; Ohio-Based Solar Energy Companies like First Solar Would be Hurt by Unfair Indian Trade Barriers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) urged the Administration to protect the ability for Ohio solar companies to compete in the international energy market. Specifically, India levied antidumping duties (AD) on American solar energy products following a disputed analysis for the Indian government that may have violated global trade rules. This would put Ohio companies like Toledo-based First Solar at a competitive disadvantage. Brown and Portman called on the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to challenge India’s AD investigation and subsequent ruling.

“We write to express serious concern about recent action taken by the Indian Government that will have harmful consequences for U.S. solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing facilities and effectively close the Indian solar market to American PV companies,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to engage the Indian Government to reverse this action and to challenge their actions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) if they do not…Ohio’s solar manufacturers and their supply chain partners are globally competitive and leaders in solar innovation, and it is critical that they get equal access to the Indian market.”

In a final determination, India recently decided to impose AD ranging from $0.11/watt to $0.48/watt against U.S. solar cell and panel products. This would increase the price of U.S. exports to levels uncompetitive in the growing but fragile Indian energy market. Brown and Portman are concerned about reports indicating that the Indian government violated World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in its AD investigation by disregarding data provided by U.S. manufacturers and selectively relying on information which bolsters the Indian industry.

Brown and Portman have therefore asked the USTR to address these issues with India and urge the government to reverse its decision before an August 20 deadline. If the Indian government chooses not to cooperate and reverse its decision, Brown and Portman want the USTR to challenge the determination with the WTO.

The senators continue to support Ohio’s manufacturers and the jobs they support. Last month, Brown and Portman applauded a WTO decision to defend the American auto industry from China’s illegal tariffs on U.S. autos. Troubled by China’s violation of WTO rules in application of AD and countervailing duties (CVD) on American-made auto exports, Brown and Portman urged the USTR to investigate the tariffs and use all available tools to protect Ohio workers and businesses. As a result, President Obama filed a complaint to the WTO, which ruled that China must rescind these AD and CVD tariffs against American auto exports. This will directly benefit Ohio manufacturers of the Chrysler Jeep in Toledo and Honda Acura in Marysville.                 

Brown’s and Portman’s letter to USTR Michael Froman can be read in its entirety below:

 

 

June 30, 2014

 

The Honorable Michael Froman

United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20508

 

Dear Ambassador Froman: 

We write to express serious concern about recent action taken by the Indian Government that will have harmful consequences for U.S. solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing facilities and effectively close the Indian solar market to American PV companies.   We urge you to engage the Indian Government to reverse this action and to challenge their actions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) if they do not. 

India’s Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) recently recommended in a final anti-dumping determination released on May 22 that India’s Finance Ministry impose anti-dumping duties ranging from $0.11/watt to $0.48/watt on imports of solar cells and panels from the U.S.   Industry participants believe that this duty level would increase the price of U.S. module exports, making them uncompetitive in the highly price-sensitive Indian market.

 

We are concerned about reports that the Indian Government’s anti-dumping investigation disregarded data provided by U.S. manufacturers, selectively relied on information to bolster the Indian industry, and otherwise conducted the investigation in a manner that violates WTO rules. 

We ask that your office convey these concerns to the Indian Government and indicate that the previous Administration’s determination in this case is not legally sound.  It is important that India’s new Finance Minister Arun Jaitley understand the benefits of rejecting the anti-dumping duties before they are applied and before any further legal action is taken by the U.S. government.  Unfortunately, the window to influence the Finance Minister is very short, as the deadline for reversing the duty decision is August 20.  If the new government chooses to move forward with the duties despite their flawed investigation, we urge USTR to challenge the determination at the WTO.

India is an important global market for solar PV modules with approximately 1,000 MW installed in 2013 and expected steady growth over the next several years to over 20,000 MW in 2020.  Ohio’s solar manufacturers and their supply chain partners are globally competitive and leaders in solar innovation, and it is critical that they get equal access to the Indian market.

We appreciate your consideration of this request.  We look forward to working with you to ensure American solar manufacturers compete on a level playing field and get equal access to the Indian market.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sherrod Brown                                                Rob Portman

United States Senator                                      United States Senator

 

 

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Press Contact

Meghan Dubyak/Yianni Varonis (Brown) 202-224-3978

Caitlin Dunn/Christyn Keyes (Portman) 202-224-5190