U.S. solar product trade ruling opens way to import duties on China, Taiwan

Technicians install solar panels on the roof of a house in Mission Viejo, California October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Wednesday imports of solar products from China and Taiwan injure U.S. producers, clearing the final hurdle for import duties and prompting China to express "serious concerns".

ITC commissioners voted in favor of the complaint brought by the U.S. arm of German solar manufacturer SolarWorld AG in a bid to close a loophole that let Chinese producers sidestep duties imposed in 2012.

The decision gives the U.S. Commerce Department the green light to impose anti-dumping duties as high as 165.04 percent on Chinese goods and 19.5 percent on Taiwan goods. Separate anti-subsidy duties of up to 38.72 percent apply for Chinese goods.

The commission voted 5-0 against China and 4-1 against Taiwan.

Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld, hailed the ruling.

"Today's decision confirms the facts set out in our initial filing, the commission staff report and our testimony at the agency's November hearing on the case," said Dulani.

He said the decision would allow U.S. solar manufacturers "to move forward with additional certainty and will likely mean additional investment and hiring in the future."

China's Commerce Ministry on Thursday expressed its "serious concerns" with the ruling, adding that Washington's "abuse" of trade remedies gravely damaged the interests of Chinese companies.

"The U.S. side's investigation results ignore the facts and legal principles," an unnamed official said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna and Krista Hughes; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Nick Macfie)