Tariffs imposed on Chinese wind tower manufacturers

The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a preliminary decision that says China gave illegal subsidies to steel wind tower manufacturers, and should be sanctioned with duties from 14% to 26%. A dozen Chinese companies are involved in the case.

Four U.S. wind tower manufacturers complained in December that Chinese-subsidized businesses unfairly benefitted from government subsidies. Members of the Wind Tower Trade Coalition include Illinois-based Broadwind Towers Inc., North Dakota-based DMI Industries, Nebraska-based Katana Summit LLC and Texas-based Trinity Structural Towers Inc.

The U.S. tariffs are intended to offset Chinese government subsidies with Titan Wind Energy and related companies hit with a 26% preliminary countervailing duty. CS Wind China Co and related companies were given a 13.7% percent duty and all others 19.8%.

“This is an important step in remedying the harm caused by unfairly traded wind-tower exports,” Alan Price, chair of Wiley Rein’s International Trade Practice and lead attorney for U.S. producers, said in a statement.

The towers covered by the ruling are 50-meters-tall and support turbines that generate at least 100 KW of electricity each. The United States imported steel towers worth an estimated $222 million from China last year.

The case alleges that unfairly subsidized wind towers from China are materially injuring the U.S. wind tower industry. In companion antidumping investigations, the World Trade Commission alleges that imports of utility scale wind towers from China and Vietnam are also being unfairly dumped in the United States. The Commerce Department is scheduled to issue its preliminary determination in the companion antidumping investigation against wind towers from China and Vietnam on July 26.

If Commerce makes an affirmative determination, preliminary antidumping duties will also be collected at that time. A final decision on duty rates is expected in August followed by a U.S. International Trade Commission vote in September on whether to allow the duties or not.

The decision comes at a time when an escalating trade war over clean energy manufacturing is brewing between the U.S. and China. In mid-May the U.S. slapped tariffs of 31% on about 60 Chinese solar panel manufacturers, alleging dumping of panels on the domestic market at below fair market value. Due to “critical circumstances,” the duties are retroactive 90 days.