US imposes duties on Chinese and Vietnamese tower imports

UNITED STATES: The US Department of Commerce (DoC) has imposed steep duties of up to 71% on turbine tower imports from China and Vietnam following allegations of dumping and illegal government subsidies.

China and Vietnam have been accused of tower dumping on the US market

The DoC has hit China with duties ranging from 45% to 71% because of alleged dumping, and duties of 22% to 35% in response to illegal Chinese government subsidies. The DoC also slapped anti-dumping duties of 51% to 58% on towers imported from Vietnam.

If the US International Trade Commission upholds the case in January, which is highly likely, then cash duties will be levied on Chinese and Vietnamese utility-scale turbines at US borders.

The duties could have been higher. In July, the DoC imposed preliminary tariffs on Chinese and Vietnamese imports of up to 73% and 60% respectively.

The US-based Wind Tower Trade Coalition (WTTC) had filed a complaint with DoC in December 2011 and preliminary duties were imposed in July.

"Over the last two years, in a period of peak demand, the US industry should have been profitable," said Alan Price of Wiley Rein, the law firm for the WTTC.

"Instead, due to the surge in dumped and subsidised imports, the industry lost market share and saw its profits collapse."

Meanwhile, high-level trade talks between the US and China are under way. A delegation from China, led by vice premier Wang Qishan, attended a meeting of the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Washington yesterday. 

Chinese overcapacity

Earlier this year, Shi Pengfei, vice president of the China Wind Energy Association, said the probe by the US DoC would not have a big impact on the Chinese industry because most wind-tower companies are focused on the Chinese market.

However, China's wind-turbine and component manufacturing sector has suffered from surplus production capacity. Once export to the US market is closed off, Chinese wind-tower makers will meet fiercer competition at home.