Sunday, June 10, 2012

China Trade Tensions Ratchets Up With New Tariffs

Clean-tech trade tensions with China just picked up the wind.
The Commerce Department added tariffs to wind power equipment.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that it will slap tariffs of 13.74 percent to 26 percent on utility-scale wind towers from China in response to a complaint from domestic manufacturers about illegal subsidies.

The announcement comes just weeks after the department slapped major tariffs on Chinese-made silicon solar panels as a penalty for dumping.

Critics of tariffs say such measures could hurt the domestic clean-tech industry by raising prices on solar and wind projects.

Wind towers — the steel towers that support turbines hundreds of feet off the ground — are often the most expensive part of a wind project. Imports from China totaled $222 million in 2011, according to Commerce.

That still pales in comparison to silicon solar imports from China, which passed $3.1 billion last year.

China has threatened retaliation for the U.S. actions, ruling last week that several renewable energy projects in Massachusetts, California, Washington and other states violate free-trade rules.

China also complained to the World Trade Organization about the U.S. investigation.

President Barack Obama has maintained a hard line on Chinese imports as the election nears, saying support for domestic manufacturers through tax credits and other federal programs is needed for the U.S. to create jobs and lead the industry.

China also has turned up as part of the Obama team’s standard response to Mitt Romney’s gibes about Solyndra and other DOE clean energy spending. “What Mitt Romney has made abundantly clear over the past year is that he’d cede the clean-energy market and jobs that come with it to China,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told POLITICO this week.

The wind tower tariff, known as a countervailing duty, stemmed from a complaint from four domestic manufacturers. The action is preliminary and open to change before Commerce finalizes it in August. After that, it moves on to the U.S. International Trade Commission for final orders in October.

Read More

No comments: