Obama solar tariffs on China backfire; Chinese retaliation costs hundreds of jobs in U.S.

The Washington Post editorializes:

WHEN THE Commerce Department slapped tariffs on Chinese solar panels last year, industry analysts had good reason to worry that it would spark a costly and counterproductive trade war. Now, in another example of why tariffs and other trade barriers should be imposed with extreme caution, their fears are being borne out. In retaliation for last year’s penalties, the Chinese government has begun enforcing tariffs of its own on American polysilicon, an ingredient in solar panel manufacturing.

U.S. polysilicon makers account for about a quarter of the international market, much of their product shipped to China. Or at least that was the case last year. In the beginning of 2013, Michigan-based Hemlock Semiconductor announced that it was firing hundreds of workers, perhaps for good, partially in anticipation of the trade restrictions that have just been phased in. Upon hearing that the Chinese government would punish U.S. firms, stocks of non-U.S. polysilicon makers soared. Tariffs on both sides, meanwhile, promise to push up the price of solar equipment in the United States.

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5 thoughts on “Obama solar tariffs on China backfire; Chinese retaliation costs hundreds of jobs in U.S.”

  1. What did you expect, just look at the steel industry…it’s Dead here in the US with 1000’s of jobs lost, the US needs to react in same manner. Raise our tarrif on the coal-gas/oil that we are exporting to them. Hit them where they will really feel the effects- come this winter. My hero was Ross Peroll when he said if we have global trading, you will hear the sucking of lost jobs in American, after a couple of decades…he was right on target !!!


  2. Howdy Gamecock
    Obama is ignorant of all economics, historical and current. Or worse, has embraced errors, as seems more likely. His economics are as rigorous as phrenology.
    More broadly, tariffs are of course almost always a bad idea except for low ones to raise revenue. Trade barriers reduce wealth and economic activity.
    BUT – there’s a strong irony in a trade war over solar products because the Chinese manufacture them mostly for the unicorns-and-pixie-dust market. Trade barriers to useless products might be a rare example of stupidity brining a good result.

  3. A president ignorant of tariff history. Morrill. Smoot-Hawley. Are his advisers afraid to speak up, or are they as dumb as him, or does he override them because he’s the smartest guy in the room?

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