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The U.S. yesterday imposed tariffs of as much as 250 percent on Chinese-made solar cells to aid domestic manufacturers beset by foreign competition, though critics said the decision may end up raising prices and hurting the U.S. renewable energy industry.

The U.S. Commerce Department ruled that Chinese manufacturers sold cells in the U.S. at prices below the cost of production and announced preliminary antidumping duties ranging from 31 percent to 250 percent, depending on the manufacturer. China criticized the action, saying the U.S. is hurting itself and cooperation between the world’s two largest economies.
4 US solar companies have filed bankruptcy in the last year because of Chinese dumping. So this would help any remaining US manufacturers and probably add some jobs there. However, this will slow down solar adoption in the short term.


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Comment Preferences

  •  It's more like 31% for most of them (5+ / 0-)

    The tarrif is 31% for most of the Chinese PV makers.  It's 249% for Chinese PV makers who are not on that list.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:30:40 AM PDT

  •  According to CNN (7+ / 0-)
    The tariffs are two-tiered. The first comprises a group of 61 exporters, including Yingli Green Energy and Trina Solar, who face rates of roughly 31%.
    The second level encompasses all other Chinese producers not currently exporting to the U.S., who would be hit with a 250% rate should they begin doing so. This higher level was set in order to deter the 61 Chinese exporters named in the decision from attempting to duck the tariffs by shifting production to other companies.
    So in reality, the 31% tariff is the one that's affecting Chinese companies, the other companies were not exporting here in the first place. Whether this will help US Companies and workers is up in the air, but, I've seen many people calling for a raise in tariffs to increase manufacturing and manufacturing jobs in the US.
    But calling it a 250% jump in tariffs is a bit disingenuous.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:31:25 AM PDT

    •  I don't get it (0+ / 0-)

      Why not import 31% on everyone instead of making it 2-tiered? What will 2-tiering achieve?

      •  That I don't know... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Unless they are trying to discourage more Chinese companies selling here, to increase US made sales?  That's the only answer I can guess at.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:39:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This makes no sense (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's essentially a subsidy for existing chinese exporters.

        •  what? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama, FloridaSNMOM

          Making Chinese imports more expensive makes ours more affordable.  This makes absolute sense, to me.

          GOP = Greedy One Percent

          by Palafox on Fri May 18, 2012 at 08:12:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Taiwanese will fill the void for inexpensive (3+ / 0-)

            solar cells.

            There is currently a glut of solar wafers on the world markets causing a downturn in price and I think this whole Chinese tariff thing is just a game for the American electorate during this election cycle.

            •  Certainly. (0+ / 0-)

              Suntec has a plant in Arizona and Trina is building a plant in Canada, and will surly shift some US bond production there (Trina has already stated this) but others are likely to shift production oc cells to Taiwan, Maylasia and Indonesia (where US based First Solar already produces the majority of their cells).

              Interestingly, the US case used Thailand as the basis to index the cost to determine the rate of duties, which are about twice what was expected. Does Thailand actually have a major producer of pv cells? (I don't know.)

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:00:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Read again (0+ / 0-)

            Read the parent of the post you replied to. Then his post will be clear. Which will make your reply meaningless.

        •  How .... (0+ / 0-)

          Is increasing their prices 31% a subsidy?

          What the 250% tariff does is effectively bar from the market producers not already importing to the US.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Fri May 18, 2012 at 11:56:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Targetting the dumpers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri May 18, 2012 at 08:39:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It effectively bars new players from the market (0+ / 0-)

        The 31% tariffs are applied to producers now importing into the US market, the 250% applies to those not yet importing.

        In practical terms, I don't think this has a significant effect since, globally, including in China, there continues to be a shake-out of unprofitable and small solar producers (quite a few smaller Chinese companies have failed even if it does not make news in the US).

        The 31% tariffs are aimed primarily at the larger Chinese producers such as Suntec, Trina, LGK, et al, who are large and efficient producers.

        It's likely that Suntec, which has a plant in Arizona and Trina with a plant opening soon in Canada, will shift much of their US bond production to these plants, but Trina has already announced it's intentions to challenge the tariffs.

        By the way, the company that initiated the suit, SunWorld, is the subsidiary of the German company SunWorld AG, that greatly benefited from German subsidies which included direct subsidies on R+D and manufacturing equipment, and feed-in tariffs (to customers) so the comments of their CEO (quoted in articles I linked down-thread) to be strangely ironic and a bit self-serving. I wonder if he would advocate similar tariffs against German companies, particularly since Germany has a higher Export/GDP ratio than China.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Fri May 18, 2012 at 11:47:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  the tier 2 is for firms that have not cooperated (0+ / 0-)


        The following are the anti-dumping tariffs handed down in the ruling:

            Suntech: 31.22 percent
            Trina: 31.14 percent
            Named Chinese firms: 31.18 percent
            Firms that did not provide info to Dept. of Commerce: 249.96 percent

        "Republicans need to figure out where they stand on children’s welfare. They can’t be 'pro-life' when the 'child' is in the womb but indifferent when it’s in the world." -- Charles Blow

        by Belidonk on Sat May 19, 2012 at 03:58:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Anything Would Help. My Exports Face Tariffs In (11+ / 0-)

      Europe, Asia and S. America. My competitors all those places face none at all selling to my customers. The ones in west Asia pay like a dollar a week for labor. And they aren't required to recycle either.

      We protected our manufacturers and workers for 200 years with tariffs, we grew into global superpower with them, trading all the while.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:40:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Statement by Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (4+ / 0-)


    Today’s decision to raise taxes 31% on solar cells will increase solar electricity prices in the US precisely at the moment solar power is becoming competitive with fossil fuel generated electricity.

    CASE recognizes that today’s decision is ‘preliminary.’ Between now and a final decision before the end of the year, there are many issues that will be addressed and whose resolution would lead to a significantly lower tariff. CASE will continue to fight SolarWorld’s anti-consumer and anti-jobs actions in order to ensure a better result for America’s solar industry.

    The vast majority of America’s solar industry jobs are in sales, marketing, design, installation, engineering construction and maintenance of solar projects. The higher prices for solar panels resulting from today’s decision will result in companies having to lay-off workers as their businesses contract.

    By increasing the price of solar cells and modules, this new artificial tax will undermine the success of the U.S. solar industry and reduce the ability of solar energy to compete with electricity generated from fossil fuel.

    The jobs represented by American manufacturers of polysilicon and solar equipment far outnumber those represented by silicon solar cell manufacturers. These manufacturers – companies such as REC Silicon and GT Advanced Technologies are concerned that China will retaliate with tariffs on US exports and therefore lead to additional industry job layoffs.

    By placing tariffs on imported solar cells from China, the US government is now on a glide path to a solar trade war. A solar trade war will further harm America’s solar industry just as it has begun to expand providing consumers with clean power and unemployed workers with jobs.

    Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

    by jam on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:42:37 AM PDT

  •  This all kinda smacks of closing the barn (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    door after the horse has already burned down the barn (or whatever that folksy farm-based metaphor is, sadly I'm no Ross Perot in coming up with them . . .).

  •  A good thing. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKinTN, Nailbanger, FloridaSNMOM

    I'm from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner Wing of the Democratic Party!

    by TomP on Fri May 18, 2012 at 08:05:33 AM PDT

  •  The US has a long history of trade protectionism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BradMajors, koNko

    to protect it's manufacturers and agriculture. Government subsidies, tax breaks and state funded research have been used for hundreds of years to support and expand US interests around the world.

    The moment a US supplier/manufacturer (who has a powerful politician in their pocket) gets competition from "free trade", they slap on tariffs.

    BTW, when is the US going to end the $20 billion farm subsidies? Most of this goes to fantastically rich and profitable agribusiness who undercut poor farmers around the world and create massive poverty.

    Part of the reasons given for the tariff on solar cells is Chinese government funded research and training, tax breaks and other incentives - no different than what should be (and is to an extent) done within the US.

    If the US government gives more money to solar cell manufacturers or uses free research from universities then they are doing the same. If the trade war is about the cost of labor then that should be addressed. Of course the US manufacturers won't do this. It would hurt Nike and Apple.

    The US has always been two-faced when it comes to world trade. It flooded the world with it's manufactured goods while putting massive tariffs on the raw materials it bought.

    •  What adds an interesting dimension (0+ / 0-)

      Is the fact US companies, notably First Solar, benefited greatly from European subsidies, feed-in tariffs and solar farm financing schemes, particularly some of the direct subsidies in R+D and production equipment from Germany, where First Solar got some of the large scale projects that made it a profitable company (they have since shifted the majority of their cell production to Malaysia).

      So as long as US companies a beneficiaries or go anywhere but China, I guess it is good for the US - unless people would like to question why First Solar did not take those European made profits home to invest in the US.

      Perhaps the principal in this suit, a subsidiary of German company SolarWorld AG, thought it might take-back some of those subsidies for the mother country ... LOL.

      Actually, the issues are quite complex.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sat May 19, 2012 at 12:19:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There should be 250% tariff on everything (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rizzo, brasilaaron

    imported from China. That would promote home industries.

  •  I bought a 50 watt panel for (0+ / 0-)

    $110 including shipping last fall.  No idea where it was made, it doesn't say, but that's crazy cheap, so I'd guess China.

    It provides enough power to run a laptop easily, which is all I need.

  •  notice that the Chinese gov't (0+ / 0-)

    did not deny that they were actively breaking trade laws?  Why are they a "most-favored trading nation"?

  •  A re-post of my comment to the Grist article (0+ / 0-)

    Department of Commerce slaps large tariffs on Chinese solar panels

    Having failed to produce policy to promote a domestic renewables market and industry, the US now imposes a 31% tax on China for succeeding to do so and effectively bars new Chinese companies from entering the market with 250% duties. I suppose it is mere coincidence that the consumer subsidies set to expire in 2016 are 30% but now those subsidies will buy fewer kilowatts of clean power.

    Due to the scale of the duties, it's hard to imagine China will not retaliate by taking a dumping case on polysilicon against the US to the WTO or other measures.

    All of which will harm the industry at a time when it is struggling to survive a relative decline in demand due to the effects of the global recession.


    This situation is not as simple as many would like to believe. Perhaps these articles can elaborate a bit although they only address those that directly fame this trade action, not the larger picture surrounding it.

    Guardian - US commerce department brings heavy tariffs against Chinese solar panels
    CS Monitor - US imposes tariff on Chinese solar panels, a victory for US manufacturers
    LA Times - U.S. orders tariffs on Chinese solar panels -
    BBC - US imposes import tariffs on Chinese solar panels
    Bloomberg - U.S. Solar Tariffs on Chinese Cells May Boost Prices

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Fri May 18, 2012 at 11:34:49 PM PDT

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