ABC News and The New York Times are reporting that yesterday, the United States’ Commerce Department has levied a small (2.9 to 4.73 percent) tariff on imported Chinese solar panels. Last year American producers of solar technology pushed the Commerce Department to pursue a case against the Chinese. Their argument was that Chinese manufacturers “may have an unfair advantage over competitors.” The central government’s role in artificially suppressing prices hurt American competitiveness.
According to the New York Times, the new tariff was less than what was hoped for by American businesses. Indeed, Chinese panels make up nearly half of those sold in the United States, with American made panels capturing less than 30 percent of market share. “American imports of Chinese solar panels have soared from $21.3 million in 2005 to $1.15 billion in 2010 and $2.65 billion last year.”
The original suit was filed by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, which believes in healthy competition, domestic manufacturing, and sustainable production. It remains to be seen how or if the Chinese will counter this move from the Commerce Department.