Thursday, June 05, 2014

Losers include consumers, solar installers, U.S.-China relations and humans who breathe air

China Wants to Sell Us Cheap Solar Panels. Why Won’t We Let Them?

By Will Oremus, Slate

Solar panels are about to get more expensive, and we have the U.S. government to thank.

The Commerce Department on Tuesday slapped heavy new tariffs on importers of Chinese solar panels, ranging from about 19 to 35 percent. The import tariffs apply to panels made by six major Chinese manufacturers, even if the panels are actually assembled elsewhere. For an encore, the Commerce Department is expected to rule on July 25 on additional antidumping penalties.

China’s crime? Subsidizing clean energy. The United States can’t abide governments meddling in the energy market in an attempt to make solar panels more affordable. Except, you know, when we’re the ones doing it.

The decision stems from a lawsuit brought by a German company that makes solar panels in the United States and feels threatened by the Chinese companies that are making them in Taiwan. Why are they making them in Taiwan? To sidestep the tariffs we already slapped on the ones they were making in China.

It’s the latest escalation of a dispute that I’ve dubbed, only slightly hyperbolically, the world’s dumbest trade war.

Congratulations, U.S. government: You’re now heavily taxing imported solar panels at the same time that you’re heavily subsidizing their purchase.

(Continued here.)

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