A series of solar panels are seen in the desert near Victorville, California, United States on March 28, 2018. REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson

October 13 (Reuters) – (This story from October 13 has been corrected to show that the solar group has identified itself with federal trade officials but not with the public, a statement from the solar trade group adds)

A U.S. solar group seeking import tariffs on panels made by Chinese companies in Southeast Asia has identified its members with federal trade officials but demanded to maintain public confidentiality, citing fears of retaliation from Beijing, according to a document the group filed with the Commerce Department on Wednesday. .

The lawsuit filed by the American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (A-SMACC) group is the latest development in a long-standing clash between America’s small domestic solar industry and a much larger contingent of U.S. solar project builders over Asian imports.

US manufacturers are eager to stamp out low-cost foreign competition, while installers rely heavily on cheap imports to keep their businesses profitable.

In August, the national group asked the Commerce Department to determine whether imports from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were unfair, arguing that Chinese companies had shifted production to those countries in recent years to avoid US taxes. existing on solar cells and panels made in China.

Late last month, the Commerce Department postponed a decision on the request and asked the group to identify its members.

In its response to the ministry, the group identified its members, but their names were removed from a public version of the document. The group argued that public identification of its members could expose them to retaliation from Chinese industry, which dominates the global solar supply chain and could disrupt the supply of critical components to solar panels like polysilicon.

If the Commerce Department agrees with the group and ultimately imposes a trade remedy, “its benefits will be considerably blunted if the Department does not allow the identity of A-SMACC members to be kept confidential,” the file says. .

U.S. solar project developers, who make up the bulk of the domestic industry, have lobbied forcefully against the new tariffs, saying they would cripple a sector critical to meeting the Biden administration’s climate goals.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, which is the nation’s leading solar trading group and opposes tariffs, said it “paves the way for a future of US solar manufacturing,” adding that the Commerce Department should classify it. ‘case.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Jan Harvey

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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