23 January 2018

Trump imposes 30% tariff on solar panels

US President Donald Trump has introduced tariffs of up to 30 percent on solar panel imports into the country. In an announcement on Monday, the government said that these new taxes will slowly decline to 15 percent over a four year period.

The move is seen as political by the Trump administration, which campaigned on a promise to protect American workers and businesses from international competition.

The US solar industry is one of the largest in the world, employing 38,000 people and is heavily reliant on importing equipment in order to do business.

Far from helping local workers, the solar industry predicts the new import tax will lead to 23,000 job losses in the country. Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the move “will create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving, which will ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working, blue-collar Americans their jobs”.

Solar developers also responded with astonishment at the decision. Tony Clifford, chief development officer at Standard Solar said: “It boggles my mind that this president - any president, really - would voluntarily choose to damage one of the fastest-growing segments of our economy”.

Former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, responded on Twitter: “Taxing solar panels up to 30% will destroy U.S. jobs, raise Americans' electric bills and hurt our environment” 



International reaction was also widely negative. China’s head of trade remedy, Wang Hejun, expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the move and that “together with other World Trade Organisation (WTO) members, China will resolutely defend its legitimate interests”.

South Korea’s trade minister Kim Hyun-chong also said his government would take the matter to the WTO, adding: “The government will actively respond to the spread of protectionist measures to defend national interests”.


Image Credit: Antonio Garcia

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