U.S. Trade Agency Says Trump Solar Duty Has Only Limited Impact

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President Donald Trump’s efforts to boost American solar manufacturing via import tariffs can only do so much, according to an official at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

That’s because the U.S. is up against a country that significantly subsidizes production, Commissioner Jason Kearns said in a report released Friday, adding that China has built dozens of factories and employs millions of workers to develop, make and distribute solar cells.

“One might ask how a U.S. industry can be expected to adjust to import competition when that competition flows steadily from massive subsidies and other industrial policies,” Kearns said, describing “seemingly permanent trade‐distorting foreign industrial policies on a massive scale.”

Trump imposed tariffs on imported solar equipment two years ago in a bid to narrow the solar-manufacturing gap with China and other Asian countries that make much of the equipment used in American solar installations. Those duties, which started at 30% and have since declined, did lead to some new U.S. solar-module manufacturing.

Representatives of the White House didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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