Final vote upholds solar tariffs
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Another victory for SolarWorld in its campaign against cheap Chinese solar imports was achieved Wednesday with a vote by the U.S. Commerce Department.
The final vote on controversial solar tariffs came in Wednesday from the U.S. International Trade Commission, which delivered a unanimous decision to uphold tariffs imposed on Chinese solar panels by the U.S. Commerce Department last month.
The vote was the final step in a long campaign launched by SolarWorld AG, a German company who ran the effort through its U.S. subsidiary based in Hillsboro. SolarWorld and other solar manufacturers argued that cheap Chinese imports — that they argued were unfairly subsidized by the Chinese government — were creating an unfair marketplace.
As BloombergBusinessweek points out in its report, President Barack Obama, re-elected yesterday, has touted his enforcement of trade laws against China. Meanwhile, the Chinese government will tomorrow begin a once-a-decade leadership change.
The campaign for tariffs has divided the solar industry, pitting some manufacturers against installers and other solar companies that argue that the tariffs will artificially inflate solar prices causing the industry to slow down and jobs to be lost.
"Unilateral tariffs and a trade war in today’s interconnected global marketplace are unnecessary and detrimental to effective and efficient business competition," said Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, a trade group formed to fight the movement for solar tariffs, in a statement Wednesday.
Quoted in the New York Times, Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America, said, "This basically takes it from being just allegations of illegal activities in this industry to confirmation. This was a growing industry just a couple years ago that has been basically decimated by the Chinese manufacturers."
While the trade commission vote is another victory for SolarWorld, the company remains concerned about a perceived loophole in the U.S. Commerce Department's ruling that would allow China to avoid tariffs by outsourcing a portion of solar manufacturing but keeping most of it within the country.
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