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Trump says new tariffs will spur jobs, won't spark a trade war

24 January 2018

The President's decision followed recommendations for tariffs by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

"These cases were filed by American businesses and thoroughly litigated at the International Trade Commission over a period of several months", the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, said in a statement announcing Trump's decision. After two years, these tariffs would be scaled back to 16% and 40% respectively.

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics expressed concern over the tariffs, saying they would hit US consumers and jobs. Some of the leading solar companies saw the tariff coming, Hochschild said, and stocked up on panels ahead of time. This decision is the latest move in a decade's worth of debate over China's subsidizing of its domestic solar industry.

"It means billions of dollars of lost investment, 1.2 million homes that won't be powered by solar", Hopper said.

Suniva spokesman Mark Paustenbach called tariffs "a step forward for this high-tech solar-manufacturing industry we pioneered right here in America".

However, a few US subsidiaries of foreign companies argue the domestic manufacturing of solar cells and modules has been decimated by a flood of imports, mostly from Chinese companies with operations throughout Asia.

According to the USTR, foreign solar panels will now face a tariff of 30 percent.

South Korea said it would "actively respond to USA trade protectionism", including exercising its rights under the World Trade Organization. The solar industry has been split over the tariffs; Companies that develop large-scale solar farms, as well as purchasers of solar power such as retailers and tech companies, opposed the tariffs over concerns that they would cost them more money and make solar power less competitive with other energy sources, at least in the short term.

The Trump administration's solar panel tariffs could threaten thousands of American jobs. But the larger industry related to solar installation and solar energy in the USA employs roughly 200 times that number of people.

"I just love solar, my bill is $12 now", Aardahl said.

The U.S. also is weighing whether to slap tariffs on aluminum and steel imports by arguing that they pose a threat to national security.

They said that a almost 500 percent increase in imported solar panels over five years led to a ruinous price collapse.

Instead, Trump approved a 30 percent fee on all imported solar panels, decreasing by 5 percent per year over four years. The solar industry provides more than 2,000 jobs in Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties alone. But the president has acknowledged other countries break the law as we see it and he may have a good point there. Trump has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA unless there are changes to make the deal better for the U.S.

During the signing at the White House on Tuesday, Trump said that the measures will help create jobs in the US and also provide a strong incentive for Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics to follow through on their recent promises to build washing machine manufacturing plants in the U.S.