US manufacturers had sought the ruling by the Commerce Department that Chinese firms were dumping solar panels, but the dispute is likely to aggravate US-China relations.
The United States Commerce Department ruled Thursday that Chinese manufacturers are guilty of dumping solar panels in the US market for less than it cost to make them, a violation of World Trade Organization rules that had harmed American manufacturers.
As a result, the Chinese manufacturers – including Wuxi Suntech Power Co., Ltd. and Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Col, Ltd., among others – will have to start paying a tariff of more than 31 percent when their products enter the US market.
The ruling adds a major point of friction to already troubled US-China relations, which have been soured recently by a dispute over human rights.
The ruling was a major victory for a coalition led by seven companies with US facilities that brought the trade complaint last fall. That group, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), led by German-based Solar World, which has US manufacturing plants, called the Commerce finding a positive first step.
“Commerce’s ruling in the SolarWorld case is a bellwether decision,” said Steve Ostrenga, chief executive officer of Helios Solar Works, a CASM member company. “It underscores the importance of domestic manufacturing to the US economy and will help determine whether the country will be a global competitor in clean technologies or outsource them China. It is also critically important for thousands of US workers.”