WASHINGTON -- The U.S. has decided to slap tariffs of 31% and higher on solar panels imported from China for “dumping” them in the American market, the Commerce Department announced Thursday in a widely anticipated decision expected to have significant implications for this global renewable energy industry.
After determining that Chinese solar panel businesses dumped their goods – that is, sold them at below a fair-market value – the Commerce Department said in a preliminary ruling that it would levy a duty of 31% to about 60 Chinese firms, including Suntech, the world’s largest solar-panel maker. All other Chinese exporters of solar cells face a tariff of 250%.
The stiff tariffs are much more than what many industry executives and analysts were expecting.
In March, the Commerce Department levied a modest 2.9% to 4.7% tariff on Chinese solar-panel imports after finding that the Chinese government provided illegal subsidies for its industry.
Those tariffs were seen as modest and unlikely to have much of an effect on the growing solar energy market in the U.S. And Chinese companies and government officials largely took that decision in stride. But the anti-dumping duty could have widespread repercussions in both the global production of solar cells and the growth of solar panel installations in the U.S.