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Trump Imposes Tariff On Imported Solar Cells, Washing Machines

The move is in line with President Trump's "America First" trade policy

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President Donald Trump has slapped high tariffs on import of solar cells and washing machines to protect the American market badly hit by products from countries like China and South Korea.

The move is in line with President Trump's "America First" trade policy.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) made the recommendations to the President based on consultations with the inter agency Trade Policy Committee (TPC) in response to findings by the independent, bipartisan US International Trade Commission (ITC) that increased imports of washers and solar cells and modules are a substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers.

A spokesman said the administration would "always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businessmen".

"These cases were filed by American businesses and thoroughly litigated at the International Trade Commission over a period of several months," said USTR Robert Lighthizer.

"The ITC found that US producers had been seriously injured by imports and made several recommendations to the President," he said.

The USTR said injury to US washing machine manufacturers stems from a sharp increase in imports that began in 2012.

The ITC found that imports of large residential washers increased "steadily" from 2012 to 2016, and that domestic producers' financial performance "declined precipitously." The relief will include a tariff of 30 per cent in the first year, 25 per cent in the second year, 20 per cent in the third year, and 15 per cent in the fourth year.

Additionally, the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells will be exempt from the safeguard tariff in each of those four years, USTR said.

The US Trade Representative will engage in discussions among interested parties that could lead to positive resolution of the separate antidumping and countervailing duty measures currently imposed on Chinese solar products and US polysilicon, it said.

According to USTR, the goal of those discussions must be fair and sustainable trade throughout the whole solar energy value chain, which would benefit US producers, workers, and consumers.

Shares in Whirlpool rose 2.5 per cent on the news, and it immediately announced it would employ 200 more people. Shares in US solar panel manufacturers also went up.

Environmentalists argue that making solar panels more expensive risks holding back the development of renewable energy in the country.

China and South Korea have reacted angrily to the news.

South Korea said it would complain to the World Trade Organization (WTO), calling the tariffs "excessive" and "regrettable". Its manufacturers, including Samsung and LG, compete in the washing machine market with US firms such as Whirlpool.

Samsung called the tariffs "a tax on every consumer who wants to buy a washing machine".

Meanwhile China, the world's biggest solar panel manufacturer, said the move would further damage the global trade environment.

China is the US's biggest trading partner and government spokesman Wang Hejun said that Beijing expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with the US move.


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