Archive for the ‘Import/Export’ Category

We like cheap goods! No, wait, we hate cheap goods!

Photo by Dominic's pics. Some rights reserved.

SolarWorld Industries America Inc., represented by law firm Wiley Rein, has filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC), requesting antidumping and countervailing duty investigations into imports of solar cells from China.

Specifically, the petitions claim that Chinese manufacturers of solar products are “illegally dumping crystalline silicon solar cells into the U.S. market,” and “are receiving massive illegal subsidies from the Chinese government,” according to a news release from the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing – a group made up of the seven U.S. producers of solar cells and panels that are behind the petition, led by SolarWorld (SolarWorld is the only manufacturer involved in the kerfuffle whose name has been released).

The news release goes on to claim that, “[a]s a result of the dumping and illegal subsidies, the U.S. industry is suffering severe harm to employment, pricing, production and shipment.”

Following the petition came a notice from the ITC, announcing the institution of antidumping and countervailing duty investigations to determine whether “there is a reasonable indication that an industry in the United States is materially injured or threatened with material injury, or the establishment of an industry in the United States is materially retarded, by reason of imports from China of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules, […] that are alleged to be sold in the United States at less than fair value and alleged to be subsidized by the Government of China.” The ITC must reach a preliminary determination in antidumping and countervailing duty investigations in 45 days. You can follow the ITC’s investigation here.

More Murders over Illegal Logging in the Amazon

Photo by Alan Hood. Some rights reserved.

The heartbreaking news came yesterday that a young peasant activist in Brazil was murdered over an ongoing illegal logging conflict in the Amazon. Obede Loyla Souza’s death marked the fifth logging-related murder in the region in only a month.

According to the Associated Press, the Brazilian government is taking “a series of measures to contain the violence,” while acknowledging that “more decisive action” is needed. But as long as there’s a market for it, it’s difficult to imagine an end to the turmoil. What’s keeping illegally logged timber out of the US?

The Lacey Act (16 USC §§3371-3378), administered jointly by the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture, prohibits trade in plants and plant products “taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation” of any US State or foreign country. The Act also mandates proper documentation for imported plant products – a declaration of country of origin and species names of all the plants in the products.

Three years ago, section 8204 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 updated the Lacey Act (originally passed into law in 1900!) to protect a broader range of plants – an amendment specifically intended to prevent trade in both illegally harvested timber as well as wood products made from such timber.

If decreasing the incentive for murder in countries such as Brazil isn’t a big enough of a deterrent for you, know that corporate violators found guilty of the Lacey Act may be fined up to $500,000 per violation (along with a nice 5 year stay in prison).

More questions? Check out this Lacey Act Primer and Lacey Act Amendment FAQ from the USDA.

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