Tariffs on China Solar Gear Threaten U.S. Jobs, Report Says

More than 60,000 U.S. jobs would be threatened by tariffs on Chinese solar-energy equipment that are being sought by American companies, according to a study prepared for competitors that oppose the additional duties.

Tariffs of 100 percent on solar cells and modules would result in the loss of as many as 50,000 net jobs, with an additional 11,000 in jeopardy from retaliation by China on U.S. exports, according to the report by the Brattle Group, a Washington-based consulting firm.

The report was in response to a complaint filed last year by SolarWorld AG’s U.S. unit on behalf of companies that said they are harmed because China’s government uses cash grants, discounts on raw materials, preferential loans and tax incentives to boost exports of solar cells. The U.S. Commerce Department is weighing duties.

“We cannot allow one company’s anti-China crusade to threaten the U.S. solar industry and tens of thousands of American jobs,” said Jigar Shah, president of the Washington-based Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, which opposes the duties, and founder of Sun Edison LLC, a solar-energy services company based in Belmont, California.

The 100 percent tariffs would result in losses from $698 million to $2.6 billion in losses to consumers, according to the report. Tariffs of 50 percent would cut as many as 43,000 jobs.

‘Highly Speculative’

Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld’s Hillsboro, Oregon-based unit, said the report is “highly speculative” and ignores China’s illegal activities.

“We do know that thousands of good-paying American manufacturing jobs have already been lost to illegal Chinese dumping and subsidies for solar products,” Brinser said in a statement issued by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, which includes SolarWorld and six unnamed companies that filed a complaint about China’s practices.

Commerce is scheduled to make a preliminary finding March 2. The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Dec. 2 the Chinese subsidies have harmed equipment makers, ruling on the petition by Bonn-based SolarWorld seeking antidumping and countervailing duties.

The commission is investigating possible economic harm to SolarWorld from Chinese imports, while the department determines the penalty for companies that illegally dump products.

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