US Government Restrictions on Importing Photovoltaic Cells from China

When importing any product, it is important to know the rules and regulations of the government beforehand. In the United States there are different rules, limits, and tariffs depending on what one is importing. One product with a large profit margin when imported from China is photovoltaic cells (PV).

Photovoltaic cells are used in solar panels to, “convert light directly into electrical energy without the need for an external source of current” (http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/trade/legal/bulletins_decisions/bulletins_2010/vol44_03312010_no14/44genno14.ctt/44genno14.pdf). The major benefit is the production of solar energy (used in solar panels). The U.S. is constantly expanding its use of such products as it searches alternatives to fossil fuels.

There are many more benefits to importing photovoltaic cells from China. Production of PV cells in china is subject to less regulation and with demand on the rise, “production capacity is rapidly expanding” (http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/OIPP/docs/SafetyConcernsPVPanels012510.pdf). Thanks to the lack of government regulation with respect to waste disposal “…Cost to produce one ton is approximately $84,500. But Chinese companies are making it at $21,000 to $56,000 a ton” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/08/AR2008030802595.html).

Under the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), they have photovoltaic cells under, “under heading 8501” http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/trade/legal/bulletins_decisions/bulletins_2010/vol44_03312010_no14/44genno14.ctt/44genno14.pdf, which is a sub-classification of electrical generators. There is currently no quota on how many PV cells as solar panels can enter the U.S. from China. This is no surprise, because of American’s high demand for solar panels and the fact that “in 2007…China was the second largest PV producer” (http://www.seia.org/galleries/pdf/Solar_manufacturing_tax_credit.pdf) behind Japan. Japan, however, has more rigid and enforced standards of safety and waste disposal than China, and thus is more costly than those produced in China.

There is a tariff on the import on PV cell products. The standard tariff imposed on all imports under the section marked ‘electric generators’ “Of an output not exceeding 750 W…The rate of duty will be 2.5%” (http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/trade/legal/bulletins_decisions/bulletins_2010/vol44_03312010_no14/44genno14.ctt/44genno14.pdf). This is the only Federal imposed payment, and of course if selling in the U.S. one will be subject to sales taxes and other such rates.

For rulings on other products imported to the United States, http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/trade/legal/bulletins_decisions/bulletins_2010/vol44_03312010_no14/44genno14.ctt/44genno14.pdf states the classification of all imported products as well as any limits imposed as of May 31, 2010.

By – Domenic Gabriella for ChinaExports.com


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