U.S. manufacturers of solar panels seek recourse against dumping by Chinese companies
Several U.S. manufacturers of solar panels are filing dumping charges against Chinese firms to offset illegal subsidies by the Chinese government.
The U.S. companies say that by selling panels at prices below production costs, the Chinese firms are “decimating” jobs in the U.S. Dumping by Chinese companies has been repeatedly documented by the U.S. government and presents a massive hurdle for U.S. manufacturers.
The Washington Post's Steven Mufson reports that SolarWorld Industries America and six other U.S. manufacturers of solar cells and panels have filed dumping charges, with SolarWorld recently laying off 66 workers at a California plant. Over the past 18 months, seven other solar manufacturers in the U.S. have shut down or cut back production.
According to Mufson, the companies cite various issues with China:
China has aided its solar companies with low-interest loans, cheap land deals and lax environmental standards that lower costs. In addition, they say that China’s currency, which is generally believed to be 10 to 35 percent undervalued, makes Chinese exports cheaper than they should be. Moreover, they allege that many of the Chinese companies are losing money on their U.S. sales, a tactic designed to grab market share and drive U.S. competitors out of business.
Last year, the United Steelworkers (USW) filed a section 301 trade case against China alleging that dumping and subsidies in the clean energy sector were adversely affecting U.S. manufacturers of renewable energy technology and equipment.
As Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) explained when the USW filed its case: "Clean energy technologies have been, and continue to be, innovated and made in America. Yet our policymakers seem to have lost interest in where goods are made or if other nations are pursuing mercantilist policies to capture market share. It does matter. We should be the global leader in clean energy manufacturing. But if China does not play by the rules and is not held to account, we will never have that opportunity."
AAM will be certain to follow this new trade case closely, and hopes that U.S. manufacturers of solar cells and panels will soon be able to compete on a more level playing field.
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