Photo: spanginator via flickr
A full-on global tariff war has broken out among countries seeking to protect domestic solar energy interests.Over the past week, two fronts have opened:
- Last Monday, China accused the E.U., Italy and Greece of giving illegal subsidies to domestic solar manufacturers and has asked the WTO for ‘consultations’. Chinese officials cite a precipitous decline in Italian imports of Chinese PV cells as a sign of Italy’s suspicious activities.
- Then on Wednesday, the dispute that started this global feud was finally put to bed. The U.S. International Trade Commission locked in tariffs between 24 to 36 per cent on imported Chinese solar panels.
The conflict actually began more than a year ago, when the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, led by a company called SolarWorld, filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Chinese solar manufacturers.
Their accusation: China was flooding the U.S. solar market with inexpensive, heavily subsidized solar panels that American manufacturers couldn’t compete with.
That set off retaliatory actions from both China and the EU, according to Pete Danko at Earthtechling:
In the months after the SolarWorld case began, China launched a probe of the U.S. polysilicon industry. Then this past summer, the EU launched an antidumping investigation into solar panels and their key components originating in China.
One interesting aspect of the global solar war: SolarWorld is involved with every single trade dispute. The company, which is America’s largest domestic solar manufacturer, is actually headquartered in Germany.
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