EXCLUSIVE: US Blocks More Than 1,000 Solar Shipments Over Chinese Slave Labor Concerns

EXCLUSIVE: US Blocks More Than 1,000 Solar Shipments Over Chinese Slave Labor Concerns
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Nov 11 (Reuters) – More than 1,000 shipments of solar energy components worth millions of dollars have been held up at U.S. ports since June under a new law banning imports from China’s Xinjiang region, according to federal customs officials and federal customs officials. Industry sources.

The scale of the convulsions, which have not been previously reported, reflects how a policy seeks to put pressure on Beijing. Uighur concentration camps in Xinjiang It risks slowing the Biden administration’s efforts to decarbonize the US power sector to fight climate change.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 1,053 shipments of solar energy equipment between June 21, when the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act went into effect, and Oct. 25, it told Reuters in response to a public records request, adding that none of the shipments. Still released.

The company would not reveal the manufacturers or confirm details about the amount of solar equipment in shipments, citing federal laws that protect confidential trade secrets.

Three industry sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters the seized products included panels and polysilicon cells with a capacity of possibly up to 1 gigawatt and were primarily made by three Chinese manufacturers – Longyi Green Energy Technology Co. Ltd. (601012.SS)Trina Solar Co Ltd (688599.SS) and Jinko Solar Holding Co (JKS.N).

Combined, Longi, Trina and Zinco typically account for about a third of US panel supply. But companies have halted new shipments to the U.S. due to concerns that additional charges would be levied, industry sources said.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

China denies abuses in Xinjiang. Beijing initially denied the existence of any prison camps, but later admitted it had set up “vocational training centers” in Xinjiang needed to combat terrorism, separatism and religious extremism.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular news briefing on Friday that claims about the use of forced labor in Xinjiang were “centuries of lies fabricated by a small group of anti-China people” and would hinder the global response to climate change. .

“The US side should immediately stop the unreasonable suppression of China’s photovoltaic enterprises and release the seized solar panel components as soon as possible,” he said.

In an email, Zinco said it is working with CBP on documentation that its supplies are not associated with forced labor and is “confident the shipments will be admitted.”

Longi and Trina did not respond to requests for comment.

Obstacles are a challenge US solar development At a time when the Biden administration is looking to decarbonize the US economy and implement the Inflationary Reduction Act (IRA), a new law that encourages clean energy technologies to combat climate change.

According to the American Clean Power Association trade group, solar installations in the U.S. slowed by 23% in the third quarter, and about 23 gigawatts of solar projects were delayed, largely due to an inability to power panels.

ACP urged the Biden administration to streamline the verification process for imports.

“After more than four months of reviewing solar panels under the UFLPA, none have been rejected and are instead stuck in limbo with no end in sight,” it said in a statement.

The UFLPA essentially assumes that all products from Xinjiang are made with forced labor and requires manufacturers to show the sourcing documentation of imported equipment back to raw materials to provide otherwise before the import is cleared.

CBP would not comment on the length of detention or when they might be released or turned away. “Ultimately, it depends on how quickly an importer is able to submit sufficient documentation,” said CBP spokeswoman Rhonda Lawson.

Longi, Trina and Zinco source most of their polysilicon from US and European suppliers such as Hemlock Semiconductor, Corning Inc and a Michigan-based joint venture between Shin-Etsu Handotai Co Ltd and Germany’s Walker Chemie, industry sources said.

A Walker spokesman would not comment on the U.S. seizures but said the company sources quartzite from suppliers in Norway, Spain and France.

“Our procurement strategy gives us every reason to be confident that the products used in our supply chain are produced in a way that respects human rights,” said spokesman Christoph Bachmayer.

Hemlock said in a statement that it sources all metal-grade silicon from suppliers using quartz mines in North and South America.

CBP has previously said it seized about 1,700 shipments worth $516.3 million under the UFLPA through September but has never previously detailed how many of those shipments included solar equipment.

The EU has also proposed a ban on goods from Xinjiang but has not implemented one.

Reporting by Nicola Groom; Additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Beijing and David Stanway in Shanghai; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Lisa Schumacher, Lincoln Feist and David Evans

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