China Rejects Anti-Dumping Tariffs on Solar Panels

Posted May 18th, 2012 at 7:50 am (UTC-5)
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The United States has imposed heavier than expected anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels, prompting Beijing to complain Friday of “protectionist” policies by Washington.

The U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday announced duties of between 31 and 250 percent on Chinese made solar panels, ruling they are being “dumped” in the U.S. market at prices below the cost of production.

The ruling aims to boost the U.S. solar manufacturing industry, which has struggled against Chinese competition. But it risks straining trade ties between the world's two largest economies, which have already squared off on a number of other trade disputes in recent months.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei on Friday stopped short of threatening immediate retaliation. But he said the measures will damage China-U.S. cooperation in the renewable and clean energy sectors.

Earlier, Commerce Ministry spokesperson Shen Danyang called the tariffs “unfair,” saying they highlight the United States' “tendency toward protectionism.”

The new tariffs would be on top of previous duties ranging from 2.9 percent to 4.7 percent imposed in March because of what the U.S. says is unfair Chinese government subsidies for solar power equipment.

Some critics warn the decision could make solar panels more expensive for U.S. customers, saying Chinese companies may raise prices of their equipment in order to make a larger profit.

But U.S. solar panel makers who asked the government to impose the duties say the dumping of Chinese equipment has negatively impacted their business. The chief Lawyer for Coalition of American Solar Timothy Brightbill says domestic demand for solar power is growing, but the U.S. industry has been “closing its doors.”

“In the last two years, 12 U.S. producers of solar cells and modules have been forced to shut down or declare bankruptcy or to have significant layoffs because of these Chinese imports of dumped and subsidized product.”

Several Chinese manufacturers of solar panels on Friday rejected accusations that they were selling goods at improperly low prices. They say the move will hurt both the U.S. and Chinese clean energy industries.

The Commerce Department is expected to confirm Thursday's preliminary ruling in October.