US unveils higher tariffs on China solar cell imports

Workers inspecting solar panels at a factory in China Exports of solar panels and solar cells have been a contentious issues between the US and China

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The US is to impose sharply higher tariffs on solar cells imported from China, which it says will offset the subsidies China pays its manufacturers.

The Department of Commerce said it will impose tariffs of between 14.78% to 15.97% on Chinese firms.

This compares with an earlier level of between 2.9% and 4.73% it announced in March.

China has criticised the move saying it will hurt trade relations and will provoke trade friction.

"The US is provoking trade friction in the new energy sector, and sending a negative signal to the world that stirs global trade protectionism and obstructs the sector's development," Shen Danyang, spokesman for China's Commerce Ministry was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

Growing tensions

The export of solar cells and solar panels has been a contentious issue between the US and China.

The US-based manufacturers of these products have alleged that government subsidies provided to Chinese firms have helped them cut their prices and flood the market with cheap products.

In its latest report, the Department of Commerce concluded that Chinese firms were selling products in the US at rates below fair value, a practice know as "dumping".

It said it would levy anti-dumping duties against these firms.

However, the department added that it would issue the orders for the anti-subsidy tariffs and anti-dumping duties once the US International Trade Commission (ITC) affirmed that these practices were hurting US firms.

The ITC is expected to announce its decision on the matter by 23 November.

Timothy Brightbill, a legal representative for SolarWorld Industries Americas, one of the firms that has been the most vocal opponent of Chinese companies, said it would keep up the pressure on authorities to implement strict measures.

"In our view, all Chinese cells and all Chinese modules are dumped and subsidised," he said.

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