Panel Maker Charged US$7.7M for Putting Made in USA Labels on Chinese Modules

Texas panel maker charged US$7.7 million for putting ‘Made in USA labels’ on Chinese modules

Bankrupt panel manufacturer 1SolTech has agreed to pay penalties and compensation amounting to more than US$7.7 million after it admitted putting ‘Made in USA’ labelling on Chinese-made modules. Read more of this post

Senators raise alarm over another possible sale of taxpayer-backed firm to Chinese

Fisker 660

A solar roof is seen on a Fisker Karma hybrid electric car during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. (Reuters)

Republican senators complained Wednesday that U.S. taxpayer dollars could end up boosting the Chinese economy, following reports that a Chinese firm is leading the pack of companies bidding for a majority stake in government-backed Fisker Automotive.

The troubled California-based electric car maker, which was backed by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of nearly $530 million, for months has been looking for a financial partner. Reuters reported earlier this week that China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is favored to take over, though Fisker is also reportedly weighing a bid from another Chinese auto maker.

The development comes after Fisker’s main battery supplier — U.S. government-backed A123 Systems — was recently purchased by a separate Chinese firm.

Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, voiced concern Wednesday that Chinese companies are benefiting from U.S. taxpayers’ investment.

“Obama’s green energy investments appear to be nothing more than venture capital for eventual Chinese acquisitions,” Thune said in a statement. “After stimulus-funded A123 was just acquired by a Chinese-based company, it’s troubling to see that yet another struggling taxpayer-backed company might be purchased under duress by a Chinese company.”

Grassley added: “Like A123, this looks like another example of taxpayer dollars going to a failed experiment. Technology developed with American taxpayer subsidies should not be sold off to China.”

Despite the Reuters report, Fisker stressed that the bidding process is still very much open.

“The company has received detailed proposals from multiple parties in different continents which are now being evaluated by the company and its advisors,” Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher said in a statement.

The Obama administration also defended the Energy Department’s overall loan program, which originally extended the nearly $530 million loan to Fisker in 2010.

Read more of this post

Obama Push on Advanced Manufacturing Stirs Economic Debate

In a White House switch, pro-manufacturing advisers have the ear of the president.

Jobs plan: President Obama addressing manufacturing workers in 2012.

Before a packed arena at the national convention of the Democratic Party in September, Barack Obama outlined a vision for America’s economic recovery with manufacturing as its engine.

“After a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two-and-a-half years,” Obama told the cheering crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina. “If we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years.”

To fulfill those promises, the White House is turning to an economic tool not seen in Washington for years: industrial policy.

Emboldened by a new cadre of advisors, the Obama administration has proposed policies to boost domestic manufacturing involving tax breaks, new R&D spending, and vocational training of two million workers including around advanced technologies like batteries, computing, aerospace, and robotics.

Read more of this post

WTO hands Obama victory in U.S.-China steel case

Reuters/Reuters – A worker checks on coils of steel at a factory in Dalian, Liaoning province

GENEVA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Trade Organization barred China on Thursday from imposing duties on certain U.S. steel exports, siding with U.S. President Barack Obama in a dispute with Beijing over a type of steel made in two election battleground states.

The case involved duties imposed by China on “grain-oriented electrical steel,” which is used in the cores of high-efficiency transformers, electric motors and generators. The steel is made by AK Steel Corp of Ohio and ATI Allegheny Ludlum of Pennsylvania.

Although the specialty steel case is tiny compared with other trade disputes with Beijing, the WTO ruling gave Obama a timely win as he defends himself against accusations by his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, that he is soft on China.

“Today we are again plainly stating that we will continue to take every step necessary to ensure that China plays by the rules and does not unfairly restrict exports of U.S. products,” Obama administration trade representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.

China’s Ministry of Commerce had no immediate comment on the ruling, which arrived late in the evening in Beijing.

When the Obama administration filed the case, the volume of specialty steel trade with China was in the range of $250 million. That pales in comparison with the auto and auto-parts trade at issue in the most recent case Washington filed against China in September. The volume of auto parts trade alone amounted to about $12 billion in 2011, according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Read more of this post

U.S. Affirms Steep Tariffs on China Solar Panels

Employees assemble photovoltaic panels at Suntech Power Holdings Co.’s factory in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China, in 2011.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration upheld steep tariffs on Chinese solar panelsWednesday, finding that improper trade practices have undermined an American solar industry that the largest U.S. manufacturer says is in the midst of collapse.

In one of the largest trade cases the U.S. has pursued against the Asian superpower, the Commerce Department said China’s government is subsidizing companies that are flooding the U.S. market with low-cost products — a tactic known as “dumping.” To counteract those price cuts, the U.S. government imposed tariffs ranging from 18 percent to nearly 250 percent.

For some Chinese companies, those tariffs are lower than preliminary tariffs imposed in May.

Still, another set of duties dealing with improper subsidies was increased dramatically. While the initial ruling levied anti-subsidy fees ranging from 2.9 percent to 4.7 percent, the final ruling issued Wednesday sets those fees at 14.8 percent to 16 percent.

Read more of this post

Obama blocks Chinese company from owning Oregon wind farm

AP

Citing national security risks, President Obama on Friday blocked a Chinese company from owning four wind farm projects in northern Oregon near a Navy base where the U.S. military flies unmanned drones and electronic-warfare planes on training missions.

It was the first time in 22 years that a U.S. president has blocked such a foreign business deal.

Obama’s decision was likely to be another irritant in the increasingly tense economic relationship between the U.S. and China. It also comes against an election-year backdrop of intense criticism from Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, who accuses Obama of not being tough enough with China.

In his decision, Obama ordered Ralls Corp., a company owned by Chinese nationals, to divest its interest in the wind farms it purchased earlier this year near the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility in Boardman, Ore.

The case reached the president’s desk after the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, known as CFIUS, determined there was no way to address the national security risks posed by the Chinese company’s purchases. Only the president has final authority to prohibit a transaction.

Read more of this post

China escalates U.S. trade dispute, requests WTO decision

The low cost of labour, coupled with the massive scale of production at its 14,000-person plant, have enabled China’s Suntech to become the global industry leader in solar power in just a decade

GENEVA (Reuters) – In a move that escalates a trade row with the United States, China said it would ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) to adjudicate a dispute over U.S. punitive import duties on 22 Chinese exports, including solar panels and steel products.

China first brought the complaint to the WTO in May by asking the United States for formal “consultations” to explain the duties, which Washington says are intended to offset illegal subsidies that gave Chinese goods an unfair price advantage.

WTO rules entitle China to demand adjudication after a 60 day period of consultations. China will make the demand for adjudication at a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body on Aug 31, China said in a statement circulated to WTO members this week.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in May that China’s decision to bring the dispute to the WTO was “premature and not an appropriate use of dispute settlement system resources”, because the U.S. Department of Commerce was already working to address the issues raised by China.

But China’s statement said two subsequent rounds of talks, on June 25 and July 18, had failed to resolve the dispute, which includes wind towers, as well as certain types of steel pipe, wire, cylinders and wheels, aluminum extrusions, wood flooring, magnesia bricks, thermal and coated paper and citric acid.

China is by far the world’s biggest producer of steel and is also a leading maker of clean energy equipment such as solar panels and wind towers, helped by Beijing’s ambition of tackling carbon emissions without slowing China’s growth.

Foreign competitors complain that its oversupply is the result of a market that is driven by forces such as government edicts and subsidies rather than fundamental supply and demand, and China has created surpluses that distort the global market.

China decided to bring the latest WTO complaint, which it says affects exports worth $7.3 billion, after winning a previous WTO dispute last year over U.S. duties on imports of Chinese steel pipes, off-road tires and woven sacks.

Many of China’s grievances might have been dealt with by a U.S. court decision last year, which struck down the Commerce Department’s ability to impose anti-subsidy duties on “non-market economies” like China.

But the U.S. Congress voted to restore it in March, ensuring U.S. duties on about two dozen Chinese goods stayed in place.

The case is one of several currently “live” disputes between the United States and China at the WTO.

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: