Commerce Rejects A-SMACC Solar Panel Circumvention Petition

11 November 2021 Renewable Energy Outlook Blog
Authors: Michael J. Walsh, Jr. Jeffery R. Atkin

On November 10, 2011 the U.S. Department of Commerce rejected the circumvention petition filed by an anonymous group of domestic solar manufacturers known as American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention, or “A-SMACC.”  Commerce cited the group’s anonymity as a driving factor in the denial.

On August 16, 2021, A-SMACC asked the Department of Commerce to initiate a circumvention inquiry on imports of solar products produced in Chinese-owned factories in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.  A-SMACC argued that imports of solar panels/modules produced in Chinese-owned factories in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, with Chinese wafers and other Chinese components, should be subject to the current antidumping and countervailing duty orders on Chinese cells/modules.  A number of parties filed comments urging Commerce to deny A-SMACC’s request on the ground that initiation would have dramatic economic impact on the nascent U.S. solar industry, disrupt imports, threaten U.S. jobs, and place the administration’s solar energy policy in jeopardy.  On September 29, 2021 (around the time Commerce was initially set to issue its initiation determinations) twelve Senators sent a letter to Secretary Raimondo expressing concerns that A-SMACC’s petition would have “a devastating impact on the US solar industry and American solar jobs.” The Senators urged Commerce to “carefully assess the validity” of the petitions.  That same day, Commerce asked A-SMACC for additional information about why its members requested anonymity in the circumvention proceeding. Commerce also asked about the A-SMACC companies’ ties to business interests in China or Southeast Asian countries. 

The Commerce ruling was not due until November 27, 2021.  In its denial letter, Commerce pointed specifically to the ongoing anonymity of the companies that comprised A-SMACC. Commerce said A-SMACC’s designation of its members’ identities as “business proprietary information” was “unwarranted” and should be disclosed within petition requests.  Commerce also held that names of A-SMACC members should be publicly identified so that interested parties could comment on the nature of A-SMACC members’ business and how it relates to the case.  Commerce also rejected A-SMACC’s attempt to target specific companies instead of countries or regions.

A-SMACC has not yet commented on its next steps.  If you have any questions about this proceeding and its impact on your business, please contact Mike Walsh, Jeff Atkin, or your Foley relationship partner.

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