China cries foul after US sets solar import tariffs


By Matt Daily and Leonora Walet ,Reuters

The United States imposed punitive tariffs on solar panel imports from China, the latest in a series of trade disputes between the world’s two biggest economies and sparking accusations by Beijing of protectionism. The new tariffs of 30 percent, much bigger than had been expected, were set on Thursday by the U.S. Commerce Department after it ruled in favor of local firms which said the Chinese exporters were dumping cut-price solar panels on their market. The size of the tariffs is larger than Chinese companies had expected and some analysts said it might prompt them to manufacture elsewhere or look for alternative markets. “The U.S. decision lacks fairness, and China expresses its strong displeasure,” a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce, Shen Danyang, said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website (www.mofcom.gov.cn). “By deliberately provoking trade friction in the clean energy sector, the U.S. is sending the world a negative signal about trade protectionism,” Shen said. However, Beijing stopped short of threatening immediate retaliation. “We believe these measures by the United States damage China-U.S. cooperation in the renewable and clean energy sectors, and also damage U.S. interests. We hope the United States can appropriately resolve the relevant issues, and take practical steps to respond to China’s demands,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. The tariffs apply to most top Chinese exporters, including Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. and Trina Solar Ltd., at about 31 percent.

Germany’s Solarworld The ruling follows a complaint filed last October by the U.S. subsidiary of Germany’s SolarWorld AG, and six other U.S. companies that alleged unfair competition and had sought duties well above 100 percent. China’s solar companies hold more than 60 percent of the global market. The U.S. market alone accounts for about 20 percent of sales of China’s largest solar panel manufacturers. Their heavy reliance on subsidized U.S. and European markets has prompted criticism that loans from Chinese state-run banks and low prices gave the companies an unfair advantage.