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US imposes tariff on Chinese solar panels, a victory for US manufacturers

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.

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A man walks through solar panels at a solar power plant under construction in China's Xinjiang's Aksu region, in this April 5 file photo.

Reuters/File

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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.”

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