In a decision announced this afternoon, the U.S. Commerce Department has ruled that imported Chinese solar panels will be subject to a 31 percent charge, retroactive for 90 days. The Commerce Department also found that Chinese manufacturers received 10 World Trade Organization (WTO) illegal subsidies and illegally dumped solar products on the U.S. market last year.
Preliminary tariffs were announced in March–4.73 percent–but American manufacturers, supporting a dumping case initiated by U.S. solar manufacturer SolarWorld, wanted the tariffs to go as high as 200 percent, arguing that solar manufacturing jobs are invaluable to the American economy.
U.S. solar installers, on the other hand, oppose the tariff, saying that inexpensive Chinese solar panels have stimulated American consumers to invest in a technology that they couldn’t otherwise afford. Chinese-produced solar panels accounted for about 50 percent of the solar installation market last year.
The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy commissioned a study earlier in the year that calculated that thousands of jobs will be lost with a tariff at 31 percent.
Jigar Shah, founder of Sun Edison and president of the coalition, told The Washington Post, “We will fight SolarWorld’s anti-consumer and anti-jobs effort.”
He added that he believes there is potential for a “full-fledged trade war” if China retaliates with a trade case against U.S. companies that export polysilicon.