Solar-Trade Fight Flares Up

“Suntech’s Mr. Beebe said trade restrictions “large or small” would delay America’s embrace of cleaner energy.”

The Wall Street Journal reports:

U.S. trade officials slapped modest tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels, giving a partial victory to solar-equipment manufacturers in the U.S. but stopping short of harsh duties that could spark a trade war.

Responding to a complaint by the U.S. unit of Germany’s SolarWorld AG SWV.XE -4.86% and six other firms who complained about competition from Chinese rivals, the Commerce Department announced preliminary duties of between 2.9% and 4.73% on Chinese solar cells and solar panels.

The ruling found that Chinese solar manufacturers enjoyed some unfair government financial assistance that helped them become an export powerhouse. The U.S. imported more than $3 billion worth of Chinese solar cells and panels last year, double the amount of imports in 2010.

Tuesday’s move may not be the final step. The Commerce Department is expected to rule by May 17 on a related complaint, that Chinese manufacturers are selling cells and panels at prices below fair value. If the department finds dumping, it could put additional, antidumping tariffs on the Chinese firms…

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