Section 201 trade case: New hope for Hemlock and REC Silicon?

Shares of main polysilicon importers in China 2012 through 2017
The share of U.S. manufacturers in polysilicon imports into China fell from 39% in 2012 to 5.5% in 2017 – Chart: Bernreuter Research

Two weeks before U.S. President Trump announced his decision on imposing new import duties on solar cells/modules in the Section 201 case on January 22, employees of the U.S.-based polysilicon producers Hemlock Semiconductor and REC Silicon signed two letters to Trump. They urged him to seek a solution for the U.S. polysilicon industry suffering from high Chinese import duties since 2014.

Promptly, the U.S. government announced “discussions among interested parties that could lead to positive resolution” of both trade cases.

However, China has got along quite well with strongly reduced imports from the U.S. since 2014; the demand for high-purity material has been covered by South Korea and Germany.

Moreover, new domestic facilities of GCL-Poly, Tongwei and Daqo with a total capacity of nearly 100,000 metric tons are slated to produce high-quality polysilicon for monocrystalline cells starting in 2018/2019.

On the other hand, Chinese solar companies reacted quite calmly to Trump’s new tariffs.

 All of this does not bode well for a “deal” that would help Hemlock and REC.

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