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Imported Chinese Solar Panels Causing Instability in U.S. Industry

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An economic “war” is about to unleash between China’s solar panel industry and the U.S.’s, as the latter applied more than $1 billion in duties to the imports from China. Also, Solyndra LLC blamed the Chinese low-priced solar cells for their September bankruptcy.

The two Chinese companies that have been accused of unfair policies are Suntech Power Holdings Co. and Trina Solar Ltd. They had been helped by the Chinese government, who released $31 billion for financing solar power companies last year, which is some 20 times more than the U.S. had given.

This comparison had been made by Jonathan Silver, executive director of the Energy Department’s loan program, who told this to a congressional panel Sept. 14. Less than a month later, Silver resigned.

All of the fears from the U.S. are founded. While in 2008 Chinese solar panels represented only 8 percent of the U.S. solar market, the sales went booming a few years later, reaching 50 percent in 2010.

“Without subsidies from the Chinese government and the dumping practices of its producers, the Chinese would not be able to flood the U.S. market with unfairly priced product,” Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America told the same panel Silver did.

“The United States will do everything we can to defend our core interest and make sure our manufacturers are not discriminated against or put in to a competitive disadvantage because of another country’s industrial policy,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Nov. 7 in an interview. “All we ask, we want everybody to play by the rules.”

Now, fair on unfair, consumers don’t really care where their solar panels come from – at least from an economic point of view. Chinese products are known to have lower quality, but the world seems satisfied by it – well, to an extent. If the Chinese don’t make good solar panels after they eat out their competition, all of their efforts will have been in vain.

But the issue can be solved by the U.S. government alone. The White House could do what the Chinese government did for their industry, and that should happen just because Obama said the industry should be greener when he started his mandate.

If the Chinese sorted their own way of doing things cheaper, they’re not to blame, imho. The U.S. workers losing their jobs because of what happens in China shouldn’t be focusing their frustrations abroad, but rather in their own backyard.

[via businessweek]

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