U.S. slaps tariffs on solar panel, washing machine imports

In an indirect move to fulfill his campaign promise toward the coal miners, the president issued new trade barriers on solar panels and washing machines. The decision aims at cheap imports coming from China and South Korea.

The imposition of tariffs will most likely exacerbate trade tensions with other nations, including China, and could result in an escalation of retaliatory trade measures against imports from the United States. Both China and South Korea harshly criticized the move, with both suggesting they could take their complaints to the World Trade Organization, which settles trade disputes between countries. … The White House took action on imports of washing machines and solar products based on requests by companies who said their operations in the United States were being harmed by imports.

Those companies are Suvina and Solar City.

Two possibilities are at play:

1. Consumers will see rising cost on the aforementioned products.

2. The move might prompt other countries to get in on the action. Should they increase their output, the prices of these products might be cheaper elsewhere except for the United States market.

The latter possibility would be damning. It is nothing more than a decision from the government picking winners and losers—something the Republican party excoriated Barrack Obama over the Solyndra’s “scandal.”

P.S. The Republic also pointed out that the decision hurts the American solar industry deeply while benefiting just two companies in the short term:

“The tariffs requested by Suniva would more than double the price of solar panels in the U.S., undercutting the cost-competitiveness of solar and reversing its high growth trajectory,” a group of 27 manufacturers wrote in a letter to the International Trade Commission in August. “We would be forced to cut our operations, seriously endangering manufacturing jobs at our factories.” The Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar industry trade group, estimates that 88,000 jobs in solar could be lost—more jobs than the entire U.S. coal industry. (The solar industry currently employs about 260,000 people; the coal industry employs about 80,000 people.)


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