Steel pipe makers charge Chinese producers with evading import duties

A company which presents itself as the largest steel pipe and tube producer in the United States has filed formal allegations that Chinese steel pipe makers are evading heavy import duties to supply the material for solar PV foundations.

Wheatland Tube, a division of Zekelman Industries, filed the complaint on September 14, under a new enforcement provision which was implemented in late August. “We want to ensure that the laws designed to create a level playing field for our industry and our workers are not undermined by duty evasion practices,” stated Zekelman Industries Chair and CEO Barry Zekelman.

In a move reminiscent of the trade cases over PV cell and module imports, anti-dumping and anti-subsidy (countervailing) import duties were imposed on Chinese circular welded steel pipe in 2008, with dumping margins set at 69-86% and subsidy rates at 30-617%.

Zekelman notes that PV mounting system structures are a growth area for the steel industry. “With the demand for energy tubulars down, structural pipe used for solar installations is a growing area of increasing demand,” explains Zekelman Industries President David Seeger in a press statement. “We hate to see that demand, and the opportunities it provides for our industry, to be overtaken by unfairly traded pipe from China.”

This is not the first time Western companies have filed for trade action regarding products that are components in the solar industry. European solar glass makers successfully petitioned for anti-dumping and CVD duties on Chinese solar glass which were imposed in May 2014 and increased in August 2015.