Mexico slams USA decision on solar panels tariff

Workers secure solar panels to a rooftop during a Solar City Corp. residential installation in Albuquerque N.M

President Donald Trump on Monday approved new tariffs and quotas on imports of solar cells and washing machines, capping a pair of contentious trade battles and marking the first time the US has imposed safeguard restrictions since 2001.

Since 2012, the USA has been collecting duties on panels imported from China. American panel manufacturers support tariffs, since they would cut competition from cheap Chinese imports.

The U.S. government argued that its domestic manufacturers could not compete with what it said were artificially lower-priced Asian panels. There would be many hurdles to making it all happen. "As they have said in official filings, price matters".

Although the tariffs are meant to apply to any foreign company, the USTR focuses on China. Chinese companies subject to USA tariffs likely would focus on those other countries.

LG did not have an immediate response to our request for comment.

Samsung and LG have objected to rulings by the International Trade Commission and the US trade representative.

San Jose's SunPower, in contrast, predicted that it could suffer more from Trump's decision than any other company.

Meanwhile, groups representing solar installers and other related solar businesses said the decision to impose tariffs on imports would end up costing jobs.

Trump campaigned on balancing United States trade with other nations, but has yet to do much in terms of tariffs until now.

However, the case was nearly universally panned, particularly by the Solar Energy Industries Association, which headed the primary challenge against the petition.

The tariffs were sought by Suniva, which filed for bankruptcy protection previous year, and the US subsidiary of Germany's SolarWorld.

The second investigation started after a 2017 petition from Suniva and SolarWorld, two solar manufacturers based out of China and Germany, respectively.

Suniva's chief creditor is SQN Capital Management. Suniva, a Georgia-based manufacturer, is under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. When the U.S. International Trade Commission recommended tariffs on imported solar panels, the company hired back some of its laid off workers. They could affect panels imported from almost every nation.

Beyond the impact to the solar market, Morgan Stanley warned of wider economic damage as the protectionist stance "could challenge investors' perception whether the USA will adhere to current free trade policies".

Installing solar panels on a house in Shelburne, Vt., in 2016.

However, the decision will deal a blow to the US solar market in the near term. Estimates place the number of GW installed in the USA a year ago at close to 5 times the tariff-free quota.

South Korea's trade ministry said Tuesday it will file a petition with the World Trade Organization against the USA government for imposing heavy anti-dumping duties on Korean washing machine and solar panel makers.

The U.S. solar trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, campaigned against the tariffs and estimated the decision would create a "crisis" for the burgeoning industry and result in the loss of 23,000 this year as billions of dollars in solar investments are canceled.

There is precedent for the idea.

"This is a bad day for the U.S.", Nicolaou said in a statement. Canadian loggers got about $4 billion, and about $1 billion went to USA companies and initiatives. Instead of new duties, he called for imposing a fee of 2 cents per watt on imports. "There is quite a bit of discretion about... negotiations for a settlement".

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