US reckless in imposing tariffs on China solar panels

Updated: 2012-05-18 22:31


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BEIJING - The US move Thursday to slap harsh new tariffs on solar panels made in China is reckless as it runs against free trade which the world's most powerful nation says it promotes.

The US Commerce Department said it had found that Chinese solar panel producers dumped exports at rate between 31 percent and 250 percent.

Compared with the countervailing duties ranging between 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent two months ago, the anti-dumping margin is stiff and will hurt Chinese manufacturers, as well as US importers. It also will limit the amount of solar panel products on the US market.

Many consumers of solar power and products in the US are opposed to the tariffs. They think the move will push up costs. When the economy falters and fossil fuel prices climb steadily, artificially raising the cost of clean energy is reckless and absurd.

Pains felt by the Chinese solar panel producers could also be passed to US polysilicon exporters, as the material is a key element of producing solar panel, and China is United States' major importer of polysilicon.

When the US government decided to impose stiff tariffs on Chinese tyres in 2009 citing the same reason that cheap imports hurt domestic jobs, three years later, figures prove the decision foretells a half-truth at best.

According to the US International Trade Commission, the tariffs did lead to a 30 percent cut in Chinese-made tire imports from 2009-11, but it did not mean 30 percent more tires were made in the United States. Imports from economies including the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Mexico surged. There has been no big boost to the job creation at all.

If the solar case was found to be a duplication of the tyre case, that would only prove the government's decision and pubic well-being are kidnapped by domestic interest groups again.

In an age of globalization, seeking mutual benefits and comparative advantage is a reasonable and feasible way to achieve common prosperity. Trade war, at any rate, is the least desirable to happen, notably in the new energy industry which could reshape the future energy use of mankind.