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Old Trade War Heats Up Between US, China


Solar capacity grew by 2,044 megawatts of power in the first quarter of 2017, the sixth consecutive quarter of growth of over two gigawatts.

One of the solar industry’s own may hamper that progress, however, and revive a trade war with one of the United States largest trade partners in the process, reports.

Suniva, a Georgia-based company, filed for bankruptcy in April, reporting liabilities 10 times greater than its assets. After filing for federal protection from its creditors, Suniva petitioned the World Trade Organization for “safeguards” from international competition from foreign countries. The safeguards would take the form of tariffs on solar technology, crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules.

The tariffs would mostly be aimed at China, and the U.S. has placed tariffs on solar panels from China before. In 2015, 30 percent tariffs were enacted after American solar companies complained of their Chinese counterparts taking advantage of loans from state-run banks to undercut prices in the U.S., Ars Technica reports.

Many in the solar industry are complaining about the Suniva petition, however, claiming that the protectionist policy would benefit a few companies at the expense of the rest of the American solar industry. Tariffs on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells would aid Suniva by pricing out competition in American markets, but the move would increase the cost on buyers of those cells.

“There is no job worth saving that is worth putting the other 250,000 at risk,” President and CEO of SEIA Abigail Hopper said in a call with reporters.

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