Trump Slaps Steep Tariffs on Imported Washing Machines and Solar Products

A floating solar power plant in Huainan China Dec. 11 2017

President Donald Trump has approved a new set of tariffs on imported solar cells and modules created to provide some relief from illegal foreign competition to US manufacturers, including Hillsboro-based SolarWorld Americas Inc. Companies that install solar panels will be faced with the prospect of having to trim their workforces, as the tariff - which starts at 30% on the imported panels and gradually declines each year - threatens to substantially raise the price of solar power in the U.S.

The moves come as Trump prepares to travel to Davos for the World Economic Forum, where the world's business and political elite are meeting to discuss topics including the backlash against globalization.

Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, said the president had made a decision to accept the recommendations of his trade advisers, who carried out "an exhaustive process" to determine whether American manufacturers were being harmed by imported washing machines and solar products. He has ordered a renewed look at US trade policies and prompted a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The United States International Trade Commission, an independent body of trade experts, had also examined the cases and found that imports were hurting domestic manufacturers.

For the solar industry, the president approved tariffs for the next four years. The solar tariffs are approved for the next four years, with a 30% tariff on the first year diminishing to 15% by year four. He ordered a 20 percent tariff on imports under 1.2 million units, and 50 percent on all subsequent imports in the first year, with duties lowering in the next two years.

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