China's JinkoSolar Holding Co Ltd said some of its solar panels have been stopped at the U.S. border, amid U.S. concerns that solar products may contain material produced by the forced labor of Muslim minority groups in China's Xinjiang region.
Jinko executives told Wall Street analysts on a quarterly conference call on Wednesday that its margins and profits had suffered due to the detainments, but would not disclose how much product had been held back by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB).
"We did have some modules stopped by the U.S. CBP and to request additional documentations," Jinko Director Haiyun Cao said on the call, according to a transcript seen by Reuters on Thursday. "At this stage, we are cautiously optimistic for the results."
Jinko officials did not immediately respond to a request for additional details. The company is among the world's largest panel manufacturers and has deployed more than 14 gigawatts of panels in the United States alone, enough to power about 2.6 million homes, according to its web site.
A CBP spokesperson on Thursday declined to comment on Jinko's shipments.
The United States in June banned imports of products that contain silicon metals sourced from China's Hoshine Silicon Industry Co, part of the Biden administration's effort to hold China accountable for human rights abuses.
Metallurgical silicon is used to produce polysilicon, the solar industry's key raw material. About 45per cent of all polysilicon used in solar module production is produced in Xinjiang.
China denies allegations that its solar firms are benefiting from forced labor.
Earlier this week, the top U.S. solar trade group said the ban "represents a significant, widespread downside risk" to the industry's rosy forecast. CBP inquiries into detained equipment could cause substantial project delays, the Solar Energy Industries Association said.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Richard Pullin)