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Congressmen call for action against Chinese solar imports

Last Friday, two U.S. congressmen spoke out about the need for legislation to combat China’s subsidies for solar panel production.

At a news conference urging a vote on legislation to mitigate against China’s undervalued currency, Representative Sander Levin, a senior Democrat from Michigan, mentioned solar as one of the industries suffering thanks to China’s policies.

“There has to be action taken on solar,” said Rep. Levin, after meeting with representatives of the solar industry earlier in the day.

In response to criticism that actions against China would start a trade war, Rep. Levin said “I don’t think we want to fight, I think we want to compete actively and vigorously.”

According to Reuters, Rep. Levin told reporters a potential solution could be imposing “safeguard” tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels. But he also said that manufacturers in other countries also receive government subsidies, indicating he may support a broader approach.


Senators Ron Wyden and Lisa Murkowski visit the SolarWorld Hillsboro Moduling plant Friday October 14, 2011. Photo Credit: SolarWorld

The same day, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) released a policy brief while touring the headquarters of a solar panel manufacturer in Hillsboro, Oregon.

The brief, titled “China’s Grab for Green Jobs,” claims that China’s solar manufacturers have managed to control significant world market share by charging below-market prices.

“China’s gains in the clean energy industry — particularly solar — are coming at the expense of American and other world producers of this technology,” the report states.

Sen. Wyden has urged the Obama administration to take action, either through domestic legislation or at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The report also noted that the U.S. Trade Representative notified the WTO of unfair Chinese cleantech subsidies on October 6, 2011.

Read Senator Wyden’s policy brief here.


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