The Commerce Department, in its preliminary finding over illegal subsidies, said solar panels imported from China would face a duty of 2.9% to 4.73%, smaller than what some had hoped for.
By Don Lee and Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times
March 20, 2012, 9:16 p.m. -Washington and Los Angeles—
Ratcheting up the battle over a vital energy industry, the U.S. Commerce Department decided to impose tariffs on solar panels imported from China after concluding that manufacturers there received illegal government subsidies.
The Commerce Department, in its preliminary finding over illegal subsidies, said solar panels imported from China — now dominating the U.S. market — would face a duty of 2.9% to 4.73%.
The tariff is considerably smaller than what some had hoped for but nonetheless marks another step by the Obama administration to get tougher on trade with China. It also highlights efforts aimed at supporting U.S jobs and a renewable energy future.
Additional tariffs could be imposed in mid-May when the Commerce Department is expected to determine whether China has been dumping the panels in the U.S. at below-cost prices.
Some American lawmakers and solar firms hailed the finding on illegal subsidies, saying the new tariffs will help create a more-level playing field for the domestic solar market, which has been growing rapidly despite the bankruptcy of some panel makers. The high-profile failure of solar equipment maker Solyndra of Fremont, Calif., was attributed in part to a sudden influx of low-cost Chinese panels.