The Obama administration on Thursday ordered tariffs of 31 percent and higher on solar panels imported from China following a determination that China is flooding the U.S. market with underpriced panels.
Those measures follow the U.S. Commerce Department's duties of 2.9 to 4.7 percent imposed in March on Chinese solar panel imports for illegal subsidies.
The rulings stemmed from a complaint filed in October by a coalition of U.S. solar manufacturers led by SolarWorld Industries accusing Chinese manufacturers of illegally dumping silicon solar cells into the U.S. market.
"The U.S. ruling is unfair, and the Chinese side expresses its extreme dissatisfaction," said Shen Danyang, a spokesman for China's Commerce Ministry, in a statement Friday.
"By deliberately provoking trade friction in the clean energy sector, the U.S. is sending the world a negative signal about trade protectionism," Shen said. "U.S. tariffs would hurt both countries because China imports a large amount of raw materials and equipments from the U.S. to produce solar panels and exports such goods to the U.S."
The Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association called for the U.S. Department of Commerce to "recheck the facts and make the right decision" without being influenced by the U.S. presidential election, China Daily newspaper reports.
More than 90 percent of China's photovoltaic solar cells are exported to the U.S. and European markets.
The U.S. Commerce Department says that last year, U.S. imports of Chinese solar cells totaled $3.1 billion, up from $640 million in 2009.
The glut of Chinese solar panels and their plunging prices led to the bankruptcy of three American solar panel makers last August, including Solyndra, the recipient of $535 million in federal loan guarantees.
Alan Price, a partner who heads the international trade practice at Wiley Rein, the law firm representing the coalition, says that China's policies pose a threat to the nation's emerging green energy sector.
"China's method is straightforward: it sets forth industry-specific Five-Year Plans and then uses all forms of national and local subsidies and other governmental support to quickly transfer jobs, supply chains, intellectual property and wealth, to the permanent detriment of U.S. and global manufacturers," Price was quoted by The New York Times as saying.
"China's ability to ramp up and overwhelm an industry is unique and particularly devastating with new and emerging technologies, where global competitors may be less established and can be knocked out more easily and quickly."
But with the new ruling, Gao Hongling, deputy secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance told China Daily, Chinese companies will lose their price advantage compared with U.S. companies.
Gao said China is also worried that the European Union will impose similar measures. "If Europe proposes an investigation, Chinese companies will suffer a lot," Gao said.
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