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U.S. trade agency recommends restrictions on solar imports
From:Xinhua  |  2017-11-01 03:53

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Tuesday recommended varying quota and tariff restrictions on imported solar products, giving U.S. President Donald Trump three choices to address the so-called "injury" to American solar manufacturers.

The commission gave three recommendations which range from four-year quota system with receding tariff rates to import license adoption. Trump will make the final decision whether to provide relief to the U.S. industry and the type and amount of relief.

In May 2017, two American solar manufacturers, Suniva and SolarWorld, filed a petition with the ITC under Section 201 of the Trade Act requesting high tariff on imported crystalline-silicon solar products and high minimum price floors for imported solar modules.

The trade panel in September decided that the U.S. solar manufacturers were being harmed by increasing crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell imports, but was divided on their recommendations sent to the president.

Chair Rhonda Schmidtlein recommended a 35 percent tariff on solar modules and as much as 30 percent tariff on solar cells which exceed quota restrictions during 4-year remedy period.

Vice chairman David Johanson and Commissioner Irving Williamson also recommended a similar 4-year quota system with receding tariff rates, but their recommended tariff rates were different from Schmidtlein's recommendation.

Commissioner Meredith Broadbent recommended a four-year period of quota restrictions on solar imports and use the funds raised from import licenses auction to provide development assistance to American solar manufacturers.

Local media said that Trump was expected to decide among the recommendations by early next year in the "global safeguard" case that could significantly restrict imports and affect the price of U.S. solar power.

"Proposed tariffs would be intensely harmful to our industry," said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said in a statement on Tuesday.

The SEIA previously estimated that Suniva's remedy proposal will double the price of solar, destroy two-thirds of demand, erode billions of dollars in investment and unnecessarily force 88,000 Americans to lose their jobs in 2018.

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) expressed concerns about any restrictive trade measures that could be imposed by the U.S. following the ITC's decision in September.

Wang Hejun, head of the MOC's trade remedy and investigation bureau, said the decision was made in spite of strong opposition from inside and outside the United States and regardless of the fact that several trade remedy measures had already been made to provide sufficient protection for the domestic solar industry.

"The free circulation of solar products helps with reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and improves the global climate. Protecting free trade in this field is a shared responsibility of all countries and is in the common interests of all parties," he said.

Wang expressed his hope that U.S. investigators would abide by World Trade Organization rules and use restrictive trade measures cautiously.