The United States on Wednesday imposed duties on large wind towers from China, alleging they are unduly subsidized for export to the U.S. market.
The U.S. Department of Commerce said it had reached a preliminary conclusion that Chinese producers and exporters of utility-scale wind towers received subsidies ranging between 13.74% and 26%.
As a result of the finding, "Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect a cash deposit based on these preliminary rates," the department said.
The action was the latest trade battle opened up between the world's two largest economies, amid friction over a series of issues including wind turbines, solar cells and rare earth minerals.
In January the Commerce Department opened an inquiry on wind towers made in China and Vietnam following a complaint filed by the Wind Tower Trade Coalition, an association of four U.S. manufacturers.
China warned at the time that the U.S. probe would hamper bilateral cooperation in new energy and hurt global efforts to address climate change.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the new duties affect only utility-scale steel towers, not the engines and rotor blades they support.
A utility-scale wind tower can generate electrical power of more than 100 kilowatts. In 2011, imports of utility-scale wind towers from China were valued at roughly $222 million, the department said.
The Commerce Department said it would make its final determination on the matter in August. If the imports of wind towers from China are deemed a threat or potential threat to the U.S. industry, it will impose countervailing duties.
The Chinese companies named were CS Wind and Titan Companies, with subsidy rates of 13.74% and 26%, respectively. All the other Chinese companies received a 19.87% subsidy rate.
In May the United States imposed antidumping levies of between 31% and 250% on Chinese-made solar cells and panels, a move Beijing branded as protectionism.
Last Friday China signaled it would challenge antisubsidy duties imposed by the United States on 22 products at the World Trade Organization.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012