Washington, D.C. – The global market for renewable energy technologies is increasingly being dominated by Chinese manufacturers reaping the benefits of unscrupulous trade practices that give them an unfair competitive advantage against U.S. industries. This is a critical problem for the U.S. solar industry facing an expected 240 increase in the import of Chinese solar panels this year. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Trade, called on President Obama to take action to curb the flood of Chinese subsidized solar products, identifying existing trade tools that he can use to level the playing field for American manufacturers. Wyden indicated he would initiate legislative action if the president was unwilling to respond.
“The American solar industry is facing unparalleled challenges and without the leadership of your administration this industry may disappear, leaving behind additional workers without employment,” Wyden wrote in the letter. “Letting that happen is unacceptable. Please know that if your administration is unwilling to take the appropriate steps, with haste, I will advance a legislative effort, as provided by the U.S. trade remedy laws, to ensure that the American solar industry is not harmed by unfair trade.”
In his letter, Wyden explains that renewable energy technologies represent one of the best opportunities to create new, good-paying jobs in the U.S. and that it would be a mistake to let these industries fall victim to China’s unfair trade practices. Chinese producers often receive large subsidies from their government and price their goods at levels that do not reflect the reality of the marketplace thus putting U.S. industries at a distinct disadvantage unless remedies are used to level the playing field.
Wyden identified the Department of Commerce’s authority to self-initiate an investigation into the application of anti-dumping and countervailing duties as one remedy as well as conditions place on China’s entry to the World Trade Organization that give the president the authority to impose tariff safeguards on surging Chinese imports that disrupt U.S. industry. In 2009, the President used this authority to impose tariffs on Chinese tires.