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The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued its final ruling on anti-dumping and countervailing-duty investigations of Chinese solar products, voting unanimously that crystalline silicon solar cells and modules from China have "materially injured" the U.S. solar manufacturing industry.

The decision marks the close of the long-term investigation, which was launched last October at the request of SolarWorld and its partners in the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM). With the ITC's affirmative ruling, the tariffs announced last month by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) are now finalized.

The CASM praised the ITC for its decision. "U.S. producers are grateful for the diligence that the ITC and its staff invested in this complex case at the crossroads of the world's energy future," said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., in a statement.

"The vote comes too late for hundreds of American workers laid off from more than two dozen U.S. factories that China's state-sponsored export campaign drove into financial peril," he continued. "But the decision offers some hope to survivors that China might be held accountable to its legal obligations and that this U.S.-pioneered industry might see a fair chance to play a growing role in the nation's energy independence."

However, the ITC voted not to apply a "critical circumstances" determination the case. As a result, the tariffs on Chinese cells will not be retroactively applied to products that entered the U.S. as the investigation was being conducted.

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), which has consistently opposed the CASM's actions, praised the commission for not applying retroactive tariffs.

"As several witnesses testified at the ITC's hearing in October, those adversely affected by retroactivity would have been small- and medium-sized U.S. solar businesses that functioned as direct importers and were caught in the middle of SolarWorld's protectionist case," the CASE said in a statement.

The CASE added that its members were disappointed but not surprised that the ITC voted to uphold the DOC's tariff decision, "given the low threshold for injury determinations."

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