I am writing to you today on behalf of my company, SolarWorld Industries Americas Inc., as well as the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) with its more than 150 associate member employers.

Since SolarWorld filed trade cases on Chinese imports of crystalline siliconsolarcells and modules in October, commentary, opinions and predictions have bombarded the marketplace. Moreover, our decision to fight unfairly priced and illegally subsidized imports apparently has motivated the Chinese government to retaliate against solar and other renewable-energy industries, despite the fact that we are acting squarely within our legal rights under U.S. and international law.

I would like first to address China’s retaliation.  As a concerned U.S. manufacturer and company leader, I want you to know that SolarWorld and I are deeply concerned that the Chinese appear to be taking this road. Such methods are inappropriate, and they do not reflect the actions of a responsible trade partner.

SolarWorld’s decision to take a stand for U.S. solar manufacturing stemmed from our duty to our shareholders and our commitment to the U.S. market. Our choice was to use existing legal avenues to challenge the practices harming our company, or to face a highly uncertain future. We have witnessed good companies, with sound business models and quality products, collapse over the last 18 months as a result of unfairly traded Chinese imports. Rather than abandon our workers, and this market, we resolved to file trade cases against China in response to its illegal dumping and subsidization. Chinese manufacturers are dumping exports of solar products into the U.S. market thanks to government subsidies -- more than $30 billion.  These subsidies, enormous in size and scope, are illegal under U.S. and World Trade Organization (WTO) laws.

Like you, SolarWorld thrives on competition, which brings out the best in our company, and in our people, and pushes us to produce the best-quality, most innovative products in the world. For more than 35 years, we have brought down costs each year in a legal and sustainable manner. However, no U.S. company or industry should have to compete against illegal trade practices, or against the financial might of an entire government.

China clearly has been violating the law. Due to its lack of compliance with U.S. and international trade laws, imports of Chinese solar products into the U.S. market have surged more than 350 percent from 2008 to 2010, and even more in 2011.  As a result of their illegal trade practices, whereas Chinese solar panel manufacturers had almost no share of the U.S. solar market five years ago, today they control more than half of it. The U.S. industry has lost thousands of jobs, and at least seven U.S. companies have been forced to close or downsize in the past 18 months.

China’s solar industry has no production cost advantage over U.S. manufacturers. Labor is an extremely small portion of production costs, and high shipping costs to send finished products across the Pacific Ocean negates any labor advantage the Chinese may have. Moreover, Chinese firms import raw materials and machinery from the United States to produce their solar products. Nevertheless, China is selling solar products at prices artificially much lower than those of any other global manufacturer. Only illegal dumping and subsidies can explain this difference.

This predatory and illegal aggression is jeopardizing the very existence of a once-prosperous and still-viable U.S. industry. We concluded that it was incumbent on SolarWorld to hold China accountable by applying the clear standards established by U.S. and international laws -- laws that China has agreed to follow. As President Obama said to the Chinese at a recent summit, “Enough is enough.”

The processes involved in our cases are WTO-legal. The U.S. government will base its determinations on fact, and they will be reviewable under U.S. and WTO law. For China to label this course “protectionist” is baseless; to threaten to retaliate against other U.S. industries is nothing short of bullying. Since China joined the WTO in 2001, the United States has lost millions of manufacturing jobs, and our trade deficit with China has grown from $87 billion in 2001 to $273 billion in 2010.  While opinions may differ on China’s role in these statistics, situations such as the one we are facing in the U.S. solar market tell a stark and unavoidable story.

SolarWorld understands that the U.S. people do not accept Chinese companies engaging in practices such as breaking domestic and international trade laws, subsidizing and dumping products into our market, decimating an important U.S. manufacturing industry, calling us protectionist for attempting to hold them accountable to the law, then retaliating to bully our government and industry. As such, we at SolarWorld are taking a stand, one based on U.S. and international law and a commitment to our workers and our industry. And we will not back down or walk away from U.S. manufacturing and its workers.

Again, we share your deep concerns regarding China’s retaliation. China’s retaliating without justification, rather than addressing its own illegal, trade-distorting practices, is unacceptable. We are urging the U.S. government and all elements of the U.S. industry to condemn China’s irresponsible behavior.