Solar tariffs case moves forward with Trade Commission hearing

By Diane Cardwell

The New York Times

Workers packing solar panels at a factory in Baoding in Hebei Province. / European Pressphoto Agency

The United States trade case against Chinese manufacturers of solar panels took a step toward completion Wednesday with a final hearing before the International Trade Commission on whether cheap Chinese imports have injured or threatened to injure the domestic solar industry.

The Commerce Department found earlier this year that Chinese companies, which dominate the global panel business, were benefiting from unfair government subsidies and were selling their products below the cost of production on the American market. In March, the department imposed anti-subsidy tariffs of 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent, and in May, it added anti-dumping duties of at least 31 percent. Those rulings were preliminary, and the department is due to announce its final decision on both on Oct. 10.

But for any tariffs to go into effect, the trade commission must find that the Chinese pricing practices have actually harmed or threatened to harm the American industry, a determination that is not expected until November.

The solar case has become one of the sharpest sticking points in growing trade tensions between the United States and China, which have surfaced in the presidential contest as well.



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