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U.S. Affirms Penalty Solar Duties for China’s Suntech, Trina

The U.S. International Trade Commission said domestic makers of solar cells were harmed by competitors in China, upholding duties on imports from companies including Trina Solar Ltd. and Suntech Power Holdings Co.

The six-member commission, an independent agency that administers trade laws, sided unanimously today with a group of American producers of the goods, led by the U.S. unit of Bonn-based SolarWorld AG.

“It’s a win for the American workers,” Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America of Hillsboro, Oregon, told reporters after the commission’s vote. He said his company has invested about $27 million in the past year to make its products more efficient.

The ruling, the final step in the U.S. investigation, raises the profile of a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies on government support for clean-energy products. President Barack Obama, re-elected yesterday, has touted his enforcement of trade laws against China. The government in Beijing tomorrow begins a once-a-decade leadership change.

The U.S. Commerce Department on Oct. 10 set final duties on imports of the Chinese solar goods to counter government subsidies and to prevent the products from being sold below cost. The decision has split the U.S. solar industry, with installers and some manufacturers saying that the higher price of imports will raise production costs and lead to unemployment.

“Unilateral tariffs and a trade war in today’s interconnected global marketplace are unnecessary and detrimental to effective and efficient business competition,” Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, which represents companies that oppose duties, said in an e-mailed statement. “We will continue to encourage dialogue and negotiation between the U.S. and Chinese governments to seek a constructive resolution.”

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