22 October 2018
There are mixed views in the US on Washington's decision to levy additional tariffs on Chinese solar products.
There are mixed views in the US on Washington's decision to levy additional tariffs on Chinese solar products.

Hardly any winner in US-China solar row

It seems that except the United States government and some multinationals, no one is happy about the latest development in Washington’s anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese solar products.

On June 3, the US Department of Commerce said tariffs on such products will range from 18.56 percent to 35.21 percent.

The decision was preliminary but it did not stop some analysts from weighing in with some measure of finality.

Joseph Fong, an equity analyst at global investment banking firm Jefferies, told clients the preliminary anti-subsidy tariffs are likely to result in higher module prices in the US, benefiting US manufacturers at the expense of end-users.

Still, not everyone in the US solar market is happy. Some said they are disappointed with the government’s decision.

In a statement, more than 90 US solar panel makers called it a major setback for the industry, saying the decision will ramp up the prices of solar products in the country which could hurt demand and therefore undermine jobs, National Business Daily reports.

Industry expert Zhao Yuwen said the trade barrier the US is putting up will turn into a lose-lose situation for both countries.

Quoting a US research, the newspaper said that almost half of the jobs in the US solar industry last year were related to solar installation. Manufacturing accounted for just 21 percent. In fact, most of the job growth came from sales, logistics and installation of solar systems.

The US Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission will make a final decision in August and October, respectively.

Despite growing opposition to the tariffs, some see them in a constructive way.

China’s solar makers suffer from excess capacity from low-end production lines as economies of scale and price undercutting remain their main competitive strategy.

Meng Xiangan, deputy director of the Chinese Renewable Energy Society, told the daily that the tariff investigation will force Chinese makers to accept that a bigger market share doesn’t mean a bigger say, and finally convince them to beef up their technology and move to higher-end products.

–- Contact the writer at [email protected]



EJ Insight writer

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