Politico – In just one year, the U.S. went from having a trade surplus with China on solar cell parts to a $1.6 billion deficit. China is now making half the world’s solar panels and exporting nearly all of them.
But here’s the twist: The U.S. Energy Department now finds that production costs for U.S.-made solar panels are lower than those from China. So why is Beijing outselling us? And why are the prices cheaper?
The Obama administration determined last week that China’s state-sponsored solar industry is illegally dumping products on our markets. On May 17, the Commerce Department made a preliminary decision to levy tariffs of at least 30 percent on Chinese-made solar cells and panels. This decision, and corresponding trade enforcement actions, are critical to the future of the U.S. solar manufacturing industry.
China is cheating in the clean-energy marketplace. Its unfair solar trade practices have already led to the closing or downsizing of several U.S. manufacturing companies and the loss of thousands of well-paying U.S. jobs. If China’s violations are allowed to continue, the U.S. solar manufacturing industry — which pioneered development of solar energy cells — could disappear.
To make up for higher production costs, China has been known to provide its solar manufacturers with an array of direct export subsidies, including free or inexpensive land and free power. This is on top of a currency that is significantly undervalued, which gives them a price advantage estimated at least 20 percent more than U.S. manufacturers.
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