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The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) says that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has backed down from its public pledge of neutrality in the CASM's trade case against China.

Immediately after the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced its decision to apply heavy tariffs to Chinese solar cells and modules, Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, released a statement expressing concern about trade hostilities between the U.S. and China.

"Importantly, disputes within one segment of the industry affect the entire solar supply chain, and these broad implications must be recognized," Resch said in his May 17 statement, warning that "if the U.S.-China solar trade disputes continue to escalate, it will jeopardize … U.S. investments."

Resch and SEIA called for the U.S. and China to "work constructively to avert or resolve trade disputes."

In a new statement, the CASM explains that by suggesting these types of discussions, SEIA is supporting "avenues for China to evade full accountability to well-established world trade laws and agreements."

"As a SEIA member, I am extremely disappointed that SEIA would call for a premature settlement of our trade dispute," said Gordon Brinser, CASM leader and president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., in the statement. "SEIA has maintained that it would take no position in this case, but its actions speak louder than its words."

The CASM has also called into question whether Resch's statement represents the true views of SEIA's full membership, and whether the association appropriately consulted with its full slate of members before publicly encouraging U.S.-China talks.

Additionally, although the CASM did not explicitly accuse SEIA of being unfairly influenced by the affiliations of its leadership, it pointed out that Suntech "heads SEIA."

SEIA's board chairman is currently Roger Efird, managing director of Suntech America Inc., according to SEIA's website, although Resch is generally seen as the group's leading public figure. Suntech received a preliminary dumping margin of 31.22% from the DOC.


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