In a statement the U.S. Commerce Department said, it has asked a group of anonymous domestic solar manufacturers for additional information before it would consider a request to impose duties on panels produced in three Southeast Asian countries.
The development comes at a time when the department’s decision is due later this week and revolves around a dispute between U.S. solar project builders and the tiny US domestic manufacturing sector which states, it cannot effectively compete cheap imports from Asia which routinely flood the US market.
However, U.S. solar project developers have lobbied against any Commerce investigation into new tariffs, saying it would not only spook foreign solar producers whom they rely on but also cripple the sector which is critical to meeting US climate change goals.
Last month, an anonymous group sought tariffs on foreign solar producers, including those from Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand saying Chinese producers are shifting manufacturing facilities to these countries to avoid U.S. duties on solar cells and solar panels made in China.
On Wednesday, the Commerce department sent the group’s attorney, Timothy Brightbill, a letter that set an Oct. 6 deadline for the so-called American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention to respond to a series of questions.
In filing with the Commerce department, the group said it wishes to remain anonymous since they fear retribution in the marketplace – a claim the US Commerce department has asked for explanation.
The department said it would issue a decision within 45 days of receiving a response.