On July 14, 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) issued a request for a range of additional factual information in connection with the agency’s ongoing circumvention inquiries into solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam that employ inputs from mainland China.[1]  The deadline to respond is July 21st.

In the July 14 memorandum, Commerce seeks information about the:  (1) amount of investment necessary to construct and start-up certain facilities, (2) non-financial barriers (e.g., access to inputs, qualified technical employees, technologies, research and development, etc.) that companies typically face to establish and begin certain operations, and (3) research and development (“R&D”) expenses associated with conducting certain operations.  These types of facilities/operations involved in:

  • refining silicon into solar-grade polysilicon,
  • producing ingots from solar-grade polysilicon,
  • producing wafers from solar-grade ingots,
  • producing solar cells from wafers,
  • producing solar modules from solar cells, and
  • the same operations and products as foreign producers and exporters responding to Commerce’s solar circumvention inquiries. 

The agency is particularly concerned with facilities located, and operations performed, in mainland China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, or Vietnam, but would accept information pertaining to other countries. 

Commerce is required to consider the level of investment and R&D expenses where circumvention is alleged due to assembly in a third country.  Level of investment and R&D expenses are factors that statutorily must be considered when Commerce assess whether the processing occurring in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam is “minor or insignificant.”[2]  It is therefore important that interested parties provide Commerce with the requested information by the fast-approaching deadline of July 21st. 

Commerce has requested this information only from “interested parties” in the solar circumvention inquiries which are defined under Commerce’s rules to include foreign producers and U.S. importers, among others.[3] 

Given its depth of experience in international trade and energy issues, Covington is well-positioned to assist clients that wish to respond to Commerce’s request for factual information, or that may have questions more generally about Commerce’s circumvention inquiries.


[1] Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, From the People’s Republic of China:  Initiation of Circumvention Inquiry on the Antidumping Duty and Countervailing Duty Orders, 87 Fed. Reg. 19,071 (Apr. 1, 2022).

[2] 19 U.S.C. § 1677j(b)(2). 

[3] The definition of interested party is provided at 19 U.S.C. § 1677(9) and 19 C.F.R. § 351.102(a)(29).

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