Wind Towers Are Next Front in Trade War

by | Jan 3, 2012

Four U.S. manufacturers of wind turbine towers have filed a trade complaint against China and Vietnam, opening a new front in an ongoing trade war, news outlets have reported.

Trinity Structural Towers, DMI Industries, Katana Summit and Broadwind Energy filed a complaint with the Commerce Department, alleging that government subsidies are letting the foreign companies sell their steel towers in the U.S. at lower than cost, the New York Times reported.

They are seeking tariffs of over 59 percent on Vietnamese towers, and over 64 percent on Chinese imports, in a case that bears similarities to the existing battle over solar panel subsidies.

The four manufacturers have also filed a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission, according to Renewable Energy World.

The petitions cover utility-scale towers for wind turbines of 100 kW or more. According to lawyer Alan Price from Wiley Rein, the firm that filed the case, imports of Chinese and Vietnamese towers into the U.S. roughly doubled in 2011. Katana Summit said imports now comprise about half the market.

The ITC is expected to make a preliminary injury determination in February, and the Department of Commerce is expected to make its own within six months.

But threats to the wind industry don’t end with imports. Federal tax credits are due to expire in a year, and are already cutting into wind tower orders.

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