by Jessica Lillian on Tuesday 27 March 2012

How can the U.S. play a bigger role in the global solar manufacturing sector?

Proponents of corrective trade action draw a link between U.S. solar manufacturers' recent struggles and China's dominance. The ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and International Trade Commission into whether Chinese solar modules have benefited from unfair government assistance and flooded the market has put a harsh spotlight on China.

However, even though the DOC recently issued a preliminary ruling that imposes tariffs on Chinese modules, clamping down on Chinese imports may not be the key to growing the U.S.' own solar manufacturing market, according to Jamie Girard, senior public policy manager for North America at SEMI.

"Penalizing the Chinese may simply allow other non-U.S. manufacturers to gain market share in the U.S.," Girard tells Solar Industry. "There is no guarantee that increased duties on the Chinese will directly help the U.S. players, especially if demand in the U.S. is lower than previously forecast."

"One thing is certain - we live in a world where global trade is the norm," Girard adds.

SEMI has officially maintained a neutral position on the trade case. In a recent report on PV manufacturing in the U.S., the trade group recommends a series of other, non-China-related strategies that the U.S. government adopt in order to help PV manufacturers compete globally.

Failing to enact these policies and create a larger U.S. PV manufacturing base could represent a major missed opportunity.

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