China denounces US tariff hikes on Chinese solar firms

The commerce ministry says the U.S. commerce department had ignored the arguments put forward by the Chinese government and its decision signals protectionism.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

China has once again hit out at the United States for what it claims to be protectionist trade rulings, after its western counterpart on Wednesday hiked its tariffs against some Chinese solar panel manufacturers and affirmed its stance these companies are dumping their products on the U.S. market.

China Daily reported on Thursday China's Ministry of Commerce had condemned the ruling to slap tariffs on billions of dollars worth of local solar energy products, saying it signals protectionism and hinders the development of new energy worldwide.

Ministry spokesperson Shen Danyang said in the report the U.S. Commerce Department had ignored the reason ing put forward by the Chinese government and local enterprises by imposing duties on solar cells made in China. This ruling, Shen added, runs counter to global efforts to jointly combat climate change and energy security challenges, as well as the U.S.'s promise not to take fresh protectionism measures made at the G20 summit.

Shen's comments come after the U.S. Commerce Department affirmed its ruling that Chinese solar panel makers are dumping their products on the U.S. market and have received unfair subsidies from the Chinese government to undercut the competition. As a result, it increased tariffs on some companies and lessened some for others, with the tariffs ranging generally from about 24 percent to nearly 36 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The report did note the tariffs stated by Commerce Department will not be final until a parallel investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) decides that U.S. companies were injured by the dumping. The ITC investigation is expected to wrap up in November, WSJ added.

The Commerce Department had slapped tariffs of 31 percent on several leading Chinese solar-cell makers in May this year, which compelled Chinese companies to band together to rebut the tariffs. Zhang Jianping from the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission said then the companies needed to prove to the U.S. government that they don't export cut-price solar products either by government subsidy or dumping.

He Weiwen, office director of the China International Trade Study Center, added the tariffs imposed by American could backfire too. "Many Chinese solar makers import raw materials and equipment from the U.S.; the tariffs could bring down production and employment within the U.S."

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