Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

US Puts Tariff On Chinese Solar Panels

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the why-not-just-sink-5%-of-the-ships? dept.

China 311

retroworks writes "Two stories in Digitimes make a puzzle of economic policy. U.S. and European tax incentives and stimulus increase steady demand for solar panels. The Chinese government subsidizes production of solar panels to meet this growing demand. The U.S. and EU complain, and place tariffs on Chinese solar panels. Do allegations that China has used government funding to subsidize the production trump our desire for cheaper solar power? Subsidizing demand led to subsidized production. In other words, one market interference (subsidized demand for solar) leads to its counterpoint, government tariff and taxation of the same product."

cancel ×

311 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

well... (4, Interesting)

pele (151312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460457)

A (rare) moment of US/EU strategic and economic briliance?

Re:well... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460477)

Making sure another Solyndra doesn't happen while Obama is in office

Re:well... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460597)

I can't see why we'd mind if the Chinese government pissed away a few billion dollars of their money.

Re:well... (1, Interesting)

Sancho (17056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460645)

I can't see why we'd mind if the Chinese government pissed away a few billion dollars of our money.

FTFW

Re:well... (2, Insightful)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460649)

Exactly. They are pissing away their taxpayers money to give us cheaper solar panels. I am ALL FOR IT.

Re:well... (5, Informative)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460721)

Because that's exactly what they did with the mining industry and rare earths? The US was, at one point, the largest supplier in the world of rare earths. You didn't dig them all up, they're still there in the ground, though today there's almost no rare earth production in the US.

What happened? China flooded the market with low cost minerals whose production was effectively subsidized by the significantly less stringent environmental controls, and US-based business couldn't keep up. And of course now that there's no rare earth production outside of China, they've started hoarding it and are interfering with and manipulating the world market.

In other words... China may be taking a loss right now, but will they still be 5 years from now?

Re:well... (2, Interesting)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460851)

Five years from now, they will have a lot less money, and when they try to jack up the prices, we will be competitive again. Actually moreso, because we are doing most of the cutting edge research, and we won't have wasted capital resources on now outdated cell production processes. In the meantime, we can invest our capital in industries where they DON'T subsidize, and take over that market.

Government intervention in markets is NEVER productive. When you give +100 in subsidies to a particular industry, you must take a total of -120, -140, or even -200 from other industries. This does NOTHING except make their economy weaker.

So I say again, thank you, Chinese taxpayer, for giving us yet more free shit while allowing us a chance (which we will squander) to regain our position as a manufacturing superpower.

Re:well... (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460957)

All that - and world peace, I guess... Keep dreaming, and keep watching your own government throw around subsidies too.

Re:well... (4, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460911)

Probably dealing with labor strikes. Or else being cut-off from the rest of the world for abusing their workers (sanctions). QUOTE: "When Jobs decided just a month before the iPhone hit markets to replace a scratch-prone plastic screen with a glass one, a Foxconn factory in China woke up about 8,000 workers when the glass screens arrived at midnight....."

How would YOU feel if you just went to bed at 9 or 10, and then suddenly your bosses wake you up at midnight to work another 12 hour shift? This is noting more than human abuse.

No wonder these people are jumping off roofs. They are sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.

Re:well... (3, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460975)

Damn, that's pretty much Embrace, Extend, Extinguish but with entire global markets. It's like Microsoft is running a country. *shudder*

Re:well... (2, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460785)

Because you don't own stock in, or work for, a domestic solar cell manufacturer. This industry could end up being enormous, and that means a lot of money and jobs are at stake.

There's another problem, too. If the US government doesn't do anything when the Chinese government prices US manufacturers out of business, it sends a signal to potential solar cell investors and manufacturers, and that is there isn't any way to make money manufacturing solar cells in the US. I'm not going to get funding to bring a clever new design to market because investors know the Chinese government will ultimately put me out of business.

Re:well... (3, Insightful)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460863)

You are very short sighted. Governments shouldn't be in the business of picking winners and losers. That is how you end up with zombie banks sucking the life force out of the economy dragging us down into an unending depression.

Chinese intervention in their own markets will either give us manufactured goods for cheaper than we could make them, or give our industry the incentive to make the shit ourselves. But when OUR government starts intervening (and continues its current intervention), then we suffer just the same as the Chinese, and everyone except for the governments of both nations lose.

Re:well... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460917)

Don't forget about the numerous successful security breaches and attempts by the Chinese to get solar cell secrets before China opened the floodgates on solar cells made cheaper than material cost.

Pure and simple -- this was an aggressive act to put a US industry six feet under, and because there was partisan politics involved, Congress sat on their hands until the US industry got turfed.

Will these measures be too little too late, time will tell. However, do we want another industry that is permanently tied to China, like steel making, consumer devices, chip making, and many others. If we have no solar industry, China gains a strategic advantage of being able to not be as dependent on oil while Western interests go into the black hole called the Middle East. We already reached peak oil and peak coal; it is only going to get more expensive from here.

Re:well... (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460659)

Probably because economics...
China has a large portion of our debt. By them pissing away their money, they are actually pissing away our money.
The irony being, we have to pay them for them keeping businesses,jobs, profits away from us.

Re:well... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460687)

By them pissing away their money, they are actually pissing away our money.

Which was their money not ours. The lending activity doesn't change that.

Re:well... (4, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460669)

I can't see why we'd mind if the Chinese government pissed away a few billion dollars of their money.

From the Chinese perspective, a few billion to destroy local American industry and establish future dependence probably seems pretty cheap.

Re:well... (-1, Troll)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460837)

You don't need billion dollar foreign subsidies to destroy North American markets.

Our unions and environmental regulations are quite effective at that.

I've said it before, I'm saying it again: When a company offshores operations, they should be required to follow their home nation's environmental and labour laws as WELL as those of the foreign country. Otherwise the entire world will eventually be dragged down to lowest common denominator status, or the only people working will be in the worst shitholes on the planet.

Re:well... (0)

deodiaus2 (980169) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460679)

Because the US oil companies don't want this to become a viable industry. And they don't want it developed here either. Just look at the retoric coming out of the Republican party. The only thing that is supported is oil. Natural gas prices are falling to a historic low adjusted for the economy, yet the only solution by the Republicans is OIL.
Yes, it will cost lots of money to covert existing vehicals to nat gas, but then, having a stratified industry protects the US from downturns. This is good logic if you are a major corporation, but apparently, not for the US, or should I say, the people who run it. I was surprised to see an interview last year on "Mad Money - Jim Cramer" by an executive from the natural gas industry who suggested that oil should be tariffed reflect the military budget used to maintain that industry. What an idea, removing economic distortions from an industry to reflect the true market price of a commodity! This will not change the economics of the situation, but rather just allow people to see what the Hell is going on! I am sure if that were to happen, Solar and Nat Gas would become viable industries!

Re:well... (2)

stevew (4845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460755)

Dufus. natural gas production goes hand in hand with oil production. The US is sitting on huge reserves and letting itself ger economically mauled for not developing it. Wait till you get to buy gas once a week in a line because of rationing. We just one misille launch in the middle east away from that.

Re:well... (4, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460743)

If they dump their cheap stuff on us at a loss, they'll drive their competitors out of business. When that happens, they have a monopoly. Too bad nobody decided to tax everything made in China. There's plenty of reasons for doing so, and since they don't play fair, why should we?

Re:well... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460481)

A (rare) moment of US/EU strategic and economic briliance?

No.

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460515)

Economic brilliance? Yea, what a terrible thing to have the Chinese government subsidize our solar panels instead of our own government (our tax dollars). Pure genius.

Re:well... (2, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460607)

I think the problem is that the American solar companies have bri....er....donated so much money to American lawmakers that they don't think they have to tolerate subsidized competition. Of course they see our subsidizing as being an investment.

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460671)

Just the law of unintented consequences... Subsidize consumption of solar power, hoping to encourage local production(because each time they subsidize local production... it just leads to exports)... Only they forgot to limit it to locallly produced power cells... So now they pissed away the money, and the policitians don't look so smart...

Limiting consumer subsidies to locally produced cells tends to not work(as other countries tend to attack it immediately on trade organisations).

The real problem is that those subsidies are used like short-term bait for voters, not as long-term industry building... If they were used as long term industry building, the politicians would take the fight to the WTO, hammer the bugs out of the bill, and wait it out... With a horizon of 20-30 years...

Short-term politics will leave first-world countries a smoking economic ruin yet...

Re:well... (2)

FairAndHateful (2522378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460541)

A (rare) moment of US/EU strategic and economic briliance?

I'm not sure if it's brilliance, or just the opening salvo of another Smoot-Hawley [wikipedia.org] , leading to a bad feedback loop. I don't know. Given the current economic situation in the US, I think it merits continued observation.

Re:well... (4, Insightful)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460571)

One government intervention in the market usually fails, which then leads to another intervention, which then fails, which then leads to another intervention... and so on. Wouldn't it be nice to have one of these laws/regulations come with a measurable goal and be automatically repealed if it didn't meet it?

Speaking of wishful thinking...
We have subsidies to buyers, then subsidies to suppliers, then loan guarantees to risky manufacturers, then tariffs on imports... what's next, skip it all with an individual mandate that all Americans purchase solar panels for their home, but only from certified U.S. union-run companies?

It would be cheaper and less economically destructive if the government just gave a few billion directly to the bank accounts of their special interest buddies instead of distorting the Catallaxy [wikipedia.org] with this farce.

Re:well... (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460643)

If the Congress can mandate you MUST buy a product (insurance), then they also have the power to mandate you buy other products. Like the solar panels you describe.

Or hybrid cars.
Or LED bulbs.
Or thermostats controllable by your electric monopoly.
Or PCs that enable at-home voting (note: the application only works on Windows 7/8. Sorry.).
Or ......

Re:well... (4, Insightful)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460557)

If by "rare" your mean "not well done", then yes, I agree.

Re:well... (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460833)

"Brilliance" would be INTELLIGENT government support for our domestic industries, but our government and people are incompetent to do that, so "tariffs" it is.

What they are really looking for .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460461)

... is domestic production of solar panels? Which isn't going to happen because it's far more cost-effective to make them in China, regardless of subsidies.

Re:What they are really looking for .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460513)

Yup. Subsidizing the solar industry is as much about bolstering US manufacturing as it is about energy independence. At least these are the two points that are always raised whenever government officials talk about these issues.

Re:What they are really looking for .... (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460555)

Subsidizing demand led to subsidized production. In other words, one market interference (subsidized demand for solar) leads to its counterpoint, government tariff and taxation of the same product." That's how it's supposed to work. Market distortions by dumping (selling below the cost of production) are done to injure competitors and "buy" market share. Once all the competitors are dead, do you really believe that the "last man standing" isn't going to charge monopoly prices?

Also, less competition means less pressure to innovate. Innovation could include such things as greater efficiencies and / or lower production costs. So imposing anti-dumping tarrifs lets competitors stay alive long enough to generate the profits necessary to do the R&D to take their product to the next generation, as well as giving potential investors a reason to invest in new technologies and processes.

Re:What they are really looking for .... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460701)

The last man standing monopoly (examples: Microsoft OS/Explorer, Kmart, Bluray Consortium) only works until a new guy comes-along (Apple, Google, Mozilla, Walmart, streaming movie downloads) and challenges it with lower prices. Then the monopoly must either lower its prices back to free market levels, or die.

Re:What they are really looking for .... (4, Insightful)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460767)

It doesn't work that way in real life - both inertia and the ability to outlast newcomers (and resume dumping with more state-funded backing) mean that either you impose tariffs or you permanently cede the industry.

Look at the electronics industry - no need to dump, because now there's simply too much of a concentration of manufacturing in China.

Re:What they are really looking for .... (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460879)

It doesn't work that way in real life? I just gave you a list of examples where it DID work in real life:

- Microsoft OS/Explorer monopoly of the 90s broken-up by challengers Apple, Google, Mozilla (firefox)

- Kmart's retail monopoly of the 70s/80s broken-up by challenges from Walmart, Target

- DVD/Bluray Consortium movie monopoly currently being challenged by iTunes, NetFlix, Amazon, and other streaming movie downloads.

- I could go on and on and on.

NEVER has a monopoly been able to hold onto its monopoly, because the young, fresh competitors arrive with cheaper goods. And we the people choose those cheaper products. I challenge you right now to give an example of a company that held its monopoly more than 20 years. (You won't find any because it doesn't exist; the free market is self-correcting. High priced costs lead customers to seek lower-cost alternatives.)

Re:What they are really looking for .... (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460735)

Why is it cheaper in China? Maybe because their workers operate round-the-clock, while our workers are not allowed (due to labor protection laws). It may be time to demand China stop forcing their workers to operate 70, 80, 90 hours a week.

Re:What they are really looking for .... (4, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460749)

>>>Maybe because their workers operate round-the-clock

According to Steve Jobs. He claimed this is the reason he manufactures in China, because they are available 24/7 whenever Apple needs a rush job. American workers aren't. I say it's time for the EU/US to insist China start treating their workers better (or else cut off the product at the incoming port). Having the Chinese operate 70-80 hours a week, or woken up in the middle of the night to drag them into a factory, is an infringement upon basic human rights.

Re:What they are really looking for .... (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460811)

a few years ago, I turned down a job offer (sf bay area) that generally looked ok to me, except for one showstopper: they demanded *mandatory* (their word, not mine) saturdays.

not sprinting, not 'on late milestones' but regularly, like, we expect you here at least half to 3/4 of a day every single saturday. period.

I tried to convince them that this was a stopper and they would either be burning out their existing people or they'd be running thru a lot of in/out workers over their product cycles. they did not care and would not budge.

I walked away. good money but I refuse to work for a slave operation.

when I interviewed with most of the folks there, I could TELL that they were beaten down, tired, worn out and hanging on by a thread. I could see myself hating that very quickly.

given the economic times, they felt they COULD push this shit on an employee.

and unless we return to our union era and start busting heads of companies (not literally, of course) who abuse their workers, nothing will change. companies think they can dictate things that are absurd and yet, they often get away with it.

not that it even matters much, but this was a company that had a spotlight on slash. they had a 'tech write-up' on them and how cool they were on this or that energy front (yes, it had a 'green side' to it and they also received a huge grant from the DOE on their 'green computing' bullshit).

I wonder how many of those guys still work there? how many are hating their lives and can't wait to find something else?

I'm fairly sure that none of them got any stock that is worth the effort they put in. it was a salary and that's about it; unless you are on the board or a VC, your stock is bullshit, these days, and we all know it. its not the stock that keeps you there anymore, its fear of being sent to the poorhouse.

'mandatory saturdays' is not the same as 'chinese hours', so to speak; but we're inching our way there, aren't we!

Govt Subsidies? Who woulda thunk it! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460473)

Oh, noes! The Chi-coms are subsidizing their solar panel industry production!!! We can't have that. We must impose trade sanctions on them. What has the world come to!

It's not like the Obama regime could possibly ever, ever, have their cronies in the Dept. of Energy dump billions of taxpayer dollars into solar panel manufacturers run by their fat-cat campaign donors, companies like Solyndra ...oh wait.

Let me see if I get this straight (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460479)

The US gives money to people who buy solar panels, while adding an import tariff on the same solar panels that will be tacked on to the end user price. What was the point of the exercise?

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460495)

Also, the government does not tax oil imports, so the tax differential appears to reflect an implicit government preference that we use import oil rather than solar panels, in cases where they can be interchanged.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (-1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460497)

Oh c'mon, it ain't that hard. On one hand, we want to appear green, while on the other hand we don't want to piss off our friends in oil and power, and at the same time we appease those "they tuk uuur juuubs" idiots who are unfit for anything but the most menial of all labours and cry for higher tariffs so their union-porked zero brains jobs somehow magically return to the US somehow.

This accomplishes three things at once. And it hopefully funds itself.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (5, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460551)

"they tuk uuur juuubs" idiots

get back to us in 10-20 years from now and tell us if YOU are still employed.

obviously you are well employed and proud of it.

but what is now, won't always be. I was once like you are: young, arrogant and thought I owned the world.

THINGS CHANGE.

but people like you, in your current mind-frame, are NOT HELPING.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (4, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460651)

"they tuk uuur juuubs" idiots

get back to us in 10-20 years from now and tell us if YOU are still employed.

obviously you are well employed and proud of it.

but what is now, won't always be. I was once like you are: young, arrogant and thought I owned the world.

THINGS CHANGE.

but people like you, in your current mind-frame, are NOT HELPING.

I can't tell you how many people that I've heard bitching and complaining about "the nanny state" and "handouts" since Obama got elected that, once they themselves have fallen on hard times, had no problem whatsoever being a huge hypocrite and taking those "handouts" from the "nanny state" themselves. One old 'friend' (more of an acquaintance these days) in particular regularly posts shit about kicking people off of Medicaid saying that it's not his responsibility to take care of "freeloaders". Meanwhile his wife has been milking Social Security for a decade due to a car accident which injured her ankle and is "unable to work".

Hypocrisy is being worn almost like a badge of honor these days. I honestly can't tell if it's deliberate or people are seriously so fucking stupid and short-sighted that they can't imagine being in similar situations.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460765)

Want a job? Join the army of your beloved country. I've heard, in my third world country, that the US army one is a job that never will be in recession.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460771)

Well said.

This is why I'm heading back to college. The demand for hardware engineers has dried-up... everything is moving to fixed, proven designs with moderate speed upgrades (swap-out the old Pentium for a P4 or a DualCore). Simple. The main demand is for software upgrades ever year or so; there's like 10 more SW engineers than HW engineers. So time to earn that software degree. As you said THINGS CHANGE.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460825)

"they tuk uuur juuubs"

This needs to be said a la South Park [youtube.com]

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (3, Insightful)

kanto (1851816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460533)

The US gives money to people who buy solar panels, while adding an import tariff on the same solar panels that will be tacked on to the end user price. What was the point of the exercise?

These are inherently different things; the subsidies to buy solar panels only affects demand, but subsidising production creates an uneven playing field for those selling solar panels. There is also less incentive to create better and more affordable products if someone is just throwing money at you to keep production running. Everyone here of course understands this, but I'm guessing it's republican day at slantdot.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460621)

And what's wrong with China subsidizing panels? WE subsidize our products (hybrid cars, corn, sugar, banks, mortgage companies, solar companies like Solyndra, etc) . So it's wrong when China does it, but okay when the EU/US do it? Hypocrites.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460655)

Just because the Chinese government subsidizes their "solar panels" does not mean that the US has to as well(AKA no tarriffs).

you did not get it straight. (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460673)

And what's wrong with China subsidizing panels? WE subsidize our products (hybrid cars, corn, sugar, banks, mortgage companies, solar companies like Solyndra, etc) . So it's wrong when China does it, but okay when the EU/US do it? Hypocrites.

Nothing is WRONG with a govt subsidizing an industry per se. But the appropriate response is to apply tarrifs.

If you subsidize an industry this may make sense inside the country where the subsidies reside. There it is a level playing field because all companies have access. It may be good for the country because they want to build up that industry and overcome an economic hump, meet a national strategy like oil security, create employment, or just to satisty internal political harmony.

  But when you sell the products internationally it hurts companies outside. The remedy is tarrifs.

Other countries should fee free to (and do) apply tarrifs to goods from outside that harm domestic industry.

There's no Hypocrisy at all. It's exactly the right thing to do. However 5% is too low.

The only reason this does not happen more is that tarrifs can launch a cycle of retribution when thought punitive. It's easier to let it slide usually. The places you care about dumping are in rapidly growing industries. There the early mover advantage can be too big to ignore.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460535)

I suspect that was a rhetorical question. But for anyone who may be wondering, this is part of a complicated shell game our government plays with money in order to distract our attention away from what it is really doing.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460537)

Solar energy is obviously a strategic industry with huge export growth potential, and experience shows that if an industry migrates offshore (to the Far East, let's say) many of the supplementary industries are lost along with it.

Now, government subsidies to a particular industry are risky (e.g. Solyndra). Not necessarily bad policy, but risky. But at least we can level the playing field somewhat against Chinese manufacturers selling here for below their cost thanks to their own government subsidies.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460539)

The point of the exercise is to subsidize DOMESTIC production of solar panels, and purchase of DOMESTIC solar panels.

Rather than to subsidize slave farms in China.

Do you not understand that principle?

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460585)

The government does this crap all the time. They hand-out Social security checks, and then they tax them. So they hand-out money and then they take it back, thus creating bureaucratic waste (and white collar welfare for workers reviewing Retired folks tax returns). It would be more logical for the government to just not tax the SS checks and eliminate that waste.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460591)

So long as it doesn't kill demand for solar panels entirely... (the law of supply and demand will still not be violated though, rest assured of that -- and the government hasn't yet done much to bolster the inelasticity of demand for solar)... it helps support a nice rent-seeking exercise that transfers money to special "green" interests in the United States. The Chinese "green" industry are not quite as well represented on K street.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (2)

tukang (1209392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460599)

You're completely off. The point is to protect domestic makers of solar panels. China is subsidizing its solar panel makers so much that they're able to sell solar panels at prices significantly below what it costs to make them! How can any non-subsidized competitor compete in this environment? They can't. And once the competitors go out of business, I suspect those subsidies will decrease or go away and lack of competition ultimately leads to higher prices and lower quality products thus also screwing customers in the long term.

The point is simple (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460629)

The US gives money to people who buy solar panels, while adding an import tariff on the same solar panels that will be tacked on to the end user price. What was the point of the exercise?

The point is plainly obvious: Equalize the manufacturing playfield. Solar panel production is not a static industry. It is a growth industry.

Subsidizing production in one nation hurts development of the industry in another. In contract, subsidizing use in one country helps production in all countries.

However if you subsize production in one, then a use subsidiy amplifies the problem.

The US just fixed that.

Re:The point is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460653)

The US gives money to people who buy solar panels, while adding an import tariff on the same solar panels that will be tacked on to the end user price. What was the point of the exercise?

The point is plainly obvious: Equalize the manufacturing playfield. Solar panel production is not a static industry. It is a growth industry.

Subsidizing production in one nation hurts development of the industry in another. In contract, subsidizing use in one country helps production in all countries.

However if you subsize production in one, then a use subsidiy amplifies the problem.

The US just fixed that.

*In an Austin Powers' voice*

"I think I've gone cross eyed."

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460635)

You said the point: to make imported products more expensive. The real question is why they are increasing prices of imports and the obvious answer to make locally produced ones seem cheaper.

That is always the point of an import tariff.

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (1)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460667)

To trumpet the merits of free trade to the rest of the world, of course.

The genius of talk radio (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460729)

The genius of talk radio is that their average listener is content to make judgements on policy based on at most two pieces of information, e.g.

1. US government is subsidizing purchases of solar panels
2. US government has just slapped import tax on solar panels
3. ?? (start of another five minute rant on "libs", Pelosi, Holder, Obama, birth certificates, etc.)
4. Slashdot: +5 Insightful

Apparently there is not enough cognitive room for additional relevant information:

1. US government is subsidizing purchases of solar panels
2. Chinese solar panel manufacturers are subsidized, so they can undersell the US manufacturers
3. US government has just slapped import tax on solar panels
4. Hey, that makes sense! (but it doesn't move Viagra, hair restoration, or debt mitigation services)

Re:Let me see if I get this straight (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460937)

Okay, here's the deal. Whenever the US government tries to build local solar production, everyone on the right screams "drill baby drill", and "look at solyndra" and does everything in their power to kill domestic production of solar panels because "the technology isn't there yet". So now, you have an unmet demand and you effectively killed local supply because of, well, let's call a spade a spade, willful ignorance because it doesn't match your political ideology. Now, when the demand is being met by China, you now lobby the government to "protect american jobs". What american jobs? You don't want domestic solar production. You don't want to invest a dime in any american solar company. This is the net result. Welcome to reality.

not the first subsidy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460485)

The demand subsidy for solar is not the first subsidy in the chain. Solar would not require a subsidy if it competed on a level playing field. But there are massive subsidies to the oil and nuclear industries that prevent wind and solar from being fully competitive. So if you want to back out the subsidies, start with the Price-Anderson Act that subsidizes risk insurance for nuclear plants. And stop the tax subsidies to the massively profitable oil industry.

It doesn't matter (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460511)

China has cheap workforce and huge rare earth production, they will make the panels regardless of subsidies or tariffs.

If subsides are wrong (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460523)

Then 1/2 the US market is 'wrong' too. If it makes it cheaper, for us in the US to buy their goods who cares? I dont.

Re:If subsides are wrong (2)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460563)

I think the naive answer is that whoever raised this tariff (or those who bribed the politicians to implement it) now expect the chinese to throw up their hands in surprise and say "Oh, I suppose we'd better stop making these panels in our cheap factories and start making them in unionised western factories instead. ... No, I'm sure our customers in those countries won't mind paying 2 or 3 times what they pay now, since they'll know they're getting locally sourced product."

Just like has happened with every other consumer product that used to be made in the west ...

To call 5% a tariff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460529)

Is sort of like calling House/Congress Useful. too little to mean anything

Solar war (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460543)

Begun the Solar War has.

Well (3, Interesting)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460545)

That petition alleges that the Chinese government unfairly subsidizes crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar cells and modules by providing cash grants, tax rebates, cheap loans, and other benefits designed to artificially suppress Chinese export prices and drive U.S. competitors out of the market.

http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/03/15/445193/us-decision-chinese-solar-panel-imports-tariffs-partial-solution/?mobile=nc [thinkprogress.org]

Why was the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge built in China?
https://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/business/global/26bridge.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

Why is American infrastructure in general being built by Chinese?
http://americanmanufacturing.org/blog/why-are-chinese-firms-building-americas-bridges-and-roads [americanma...turing.org]

Why are these jobs subsidizing China?

Because we can't find welders,

Watch the video.
http://americanmanufacturing.org/blog/why-are-chinese-firms-building-americas-bridges-and-roads [americanma...turing.org]

Don't act like US (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460547)

We subsidize corn production and then sell it round the world. But it's okay when we do it; not okay when China does it (with solar). Double standard.

This is about Solyndra (1)

Pausanias (681077) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460553)

The whole reason Solyndra went bankrupt was that their whole business model depended on a higher price for solar panels. They were totally caught off guard by the cheapness of Chinese panels. Yet another area of tension between the relatively privileged life we enjoy in the use and the rise of cheap yet adequately skilled label in East Asia.

Re:This is about Solyndra (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460575)

However, if they had been better stewards of the money and not spent like drunken sailors on DotCom era perks, and maybe not built the plant in an area with high property costs and high labor... They would have able to compete with Chinese solar panels.

Re:This is about Solyndra (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460715)

Probably not. Chinese solar panels weren't cheap because China is just so great at everything. China was heavily subsidizing the panels for the specific purpose of eliminating American/European competition. It's called dumping, and it's not legal. Problem is, how do you enforce international trade laws? You can't arrest the country of China. You take diplomatic solutions like tariffs. There isn't really anything else you can do.

Most Favored Nation trading status (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460795)

There certainly is something else you can do. The US can revoke China's status as a Most Favored Nation trading partner. The abuses of Chinese laborers show that President Clinton was wrong to say that granting China MFN would improve human rights conditions in China http://tech.mit.edu/V114/N27/china.27w.html [mit.edu] .

Revoking MFN is also not subject to sanctions against the US by international trade courts.

Re:This is about Solyndra (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460727)

They could have built the plant in Mississippi and the labor costs would have been better with vastly lower real estate costs. I'd bet Mississippi would have given them land and all the tax incentives they'd ever want.

Dirty OIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460569)

Why not does the US put a tariff on OIL from countries with suppresive regimes like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Important concept: "Dumping" (4, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460579)

There's a larger game afoot here than just price. This is about what happens in the long-term when a country unfairly supports a domestic industry and artificially lowers the cost of that industry's products on the marketplace. What results from this is the failure of producers of that good in other countries, which in turn results in a monopoly, or at the very least, market share dominance. Then, the prices can go back up, leaving other countries with less competition and a strategic disadvantage. In this case, that disadvantage also includes an energy source, so there's a double-risk.

And yes, I know...they can always just start up new companies, right? Wrong...it's not that easy. Because in the meanwhile, the surviving companies have been able to invest in R&D, and further lower costs, improve manufacturing processes, and innovate, all of which raise the barrier to entry in the market. And even if a company elsewhere comes onto the market and starts competing effectively...China would only have to start subsidizing their own industry again to put them at a disadvantage, and the cycle repeats itself.

Re:Important concept: "Dumping" (1)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460793)

Only a problem if you think patents are worth respecting.

Another approach would be to buy the panels (and anything else produced at subsidised prices) and focus on other areas. Once they put the prices up, you steal their tech and make them yourselves.

Of course if you have shut down your rare earth mining facility because your tiny capitalist minds said it was cheaper to get them from China, well I guess there is some benefits to a planned economy after all.

Re:Important concept: "Dumping" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460869)

Important concept: Capitalism is about having advantages over the competition. What the hell is an "unfair advantage"? You have a lot to learn about the world if you think that success comes cleanly. Every successful company has an "unfair" advantage that cannot be surmounted by its less successful competitors. What of it if the Chinese decide to spend their own budgets on subsidizing their domestic companies for their own economic self-interest? Why aren't we doing the same -- that which is completely the obvious thing to do, and yet escapes the hearts and minds of the "civilized" world that is so bent on self-righteous military "correction" of perceived moral injustices abroad, when filth and decay are evident at home.

You can't just flip the tables and call it cheating when someone else is winning. What kind of doublespeak is that? We only have ourselves to blame.

when youve spent (1, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460583)

thirty years pushing manufacturing and technology jobs overseas to china under the guise of economic sense and prosperity for america, you dont get to turn around and cry foul when you get exactly what you asked for. namely, cheap foreign slave labor subsidized by a dictatorial ruling class operating under the guise of a communism it hasnt practiced in almost 40 years.
tarrifs are okay. you use them to incense corporations to reconsider employing local labour, but they wont work in americas revolving door government where capitalism and legislation are essentially the same. and while the economic cost of producing solar technology in china may be cheaper, the environmental and social costs are never worth it in my opinion.

tariffs and subsidies (5, Informative)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460623)

I'm all for placing tariffs on all Chinese imports. Yes, that raises prices on our end with respect to imports from China. China has a history of dumping (look up the term). The US needs to place tariffs on Chinese products to reduce the impact of its dumping procedures.

Tariffs on solar panels from China are not inconsistent with subsidies on solar panels. Why? Because while subsidies (artificially) increase demand in a good; tariffs (artificially) decrease demand in a good. The combined affect gently nudges people to purchase solar panels not produced in China.

And that, my friends, is how tariffs and subsidies can apply to the same market.

Re:tariffs and subsidies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460841)

...China has a history of dumping (look up the term)...

And so the USA. The Marshall Plan after WWI ruined all the third world economies and industries in the thir world countries not involved in the WWII, and force them to produce commodities only until today, followed by a sad series of dictatorship after dictatorship (I live in South America). China is the first large scale thir world economy-industry to recover from Marshall Plan. In the words of Sir Issac Newton, every action has a reaction. Or more according to you, In the words of a much liked stereotyped movie yankee macho soldier, it's payback time, honey.

Re:tariffs and subsidies (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460907)

And so the USA. The Marshall Plan after WWI ruined all the third world economies and industries in the thir world countries not involved in the WWII, and force them to produce commodities only until today, followed by a sad series of dictatorship after dictatorship

From wikipedia:

The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism.[1] The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948. The goals of the United States were to rebuild a war-devastated region, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, and make Europe prosperous again. The initiative was named after Secretary of State George Marshall. The plan had bipartisan support in Washington, where the Republicans controlled Congress and the Democrats controlled the White House. The Plan was largely the creation of State Department officials, especially William L. Clayton and George F. Kennan. Marshall spoke of urgent need to help the European recovery in his address at Harvard University in June 1947.[

I don't see where your statement stems from.

Too late (3, Insightful)

acoustix (123925) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460665)

They should've done this before Solyndra went bankrupt and took $500M of tax payer money with them.

Re:Too late (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460847)

or Before BP Solar Went Under [wsj.com]

Most of Slashdot doesn't understand. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460711)

The subsidizes are to promote solar panels usage (generally a good thing) while the tariff is to counteract China's subsidies (dumping). Note, this is purely for China and not for solar panels made in other countries, especially those made locally. Letting China have such a large advantage due to China's subsidies would only hurt the US in the long term (see situation with rare earth metal as an reference). If you are complaining about the free market, well it's not already free due to China's subsidies and this would only level the playing field.

only if the market is rational (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460713)

but since the market isn't rational, it makes perfect sense. We're not dealing with rational abstract entities operating in some clear frictionless metaphysical space. We are dealing with thugs and gangsters seeking advantage over each other. If something works for a short sighted but politically expedient goal, then it's golden, and classical economics can go fuck itself. And while that may seem harsh, it has actually always been true. When times are good, the man behind the curtain is invisible, but times get rough, the curtains come down and the guns come out and the real becomes material in practice.

The Summary is missing the point, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460731)

This is more complicated with longer term ramifications than the mere notion that US/EU policy seems to be self contradictory. It is not self contradictory. By subsidizing **DEMAND but taxing **PRODUCTION by only one nation, the US and EU are promoting **CONSUMPTION of solar panels made in places other than China. This is not self contradiction, it is a broader and more complicated plan than the summary above elicits and connotes.

There are three distinct concepts at play: 1) demand, 2) production, 3) consumption. Analyze this situation as to how it affects each of these three concepts.

Just my dos cents.

policical move (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460763)

The tariffs are so miniscule they'll have no effect. This is a publicity stunt. And a typical Obama move - trying to make each side happy, but really doing nothing positive. This is the same guy that said that increasing the supply of oil would have no effect on its price. He may be well intentioned, but he's just plain dumb. His only skill is reading a teleprompter.

A bit late (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460779)

Too bad they did this after Solyndra was on the rocks, and then needed a bailout, and then failed anyways.

Rare Earths Battle (3, Interesting)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460817)

This is the Opening Salvo by the U.S. against China in their Rare Earths Suit involving the WTO. China has restricted exports of rare earths to the U.S. Japan and Europe that is impacting the ability of our industry to produce, EV's, Wind Generators and many other products that depend upon them. There is also the issue of the strategic metals part of those rare earths and explains part of the reasoning behind the reopening of the Mesa California Rare Earth mine.

Others have pointed out that this is also due to China Dumping cheap solar panels on the market with the express purpose of killing our own industry. The only way I can see to level the playing field against China is to revoke their most favored trading partner status that Bush Jr. Gave them. This will simulateously send the Chinese government a signal that America is no longer going to be their bitch and increase the cost of Chinese goods in the States while encouraging those American Businesses that still exist to increase their marketing. Of course, without nailing some CEO's to the wall and hitting their wallets for the destruction of companies (violating their fiduciary responsibilities) the cost of goods from China wont materialy increase. A side note here

Walmart accounts for 10+ percent of all goods imported from China in the United States - That's All Chinese Goods

Recently, ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer ran a series on Made In America that showed many U.S. Companies selling products for the same price as Chinese manufactered junk with higher quality. So why in hell do you want to buy Chinese crap and send our work to them?

Muddled (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460827)

Subsidizing demand led to subsidized production. In other words, one market interference (subsidized demand for solar) leads to its counterpoint, government tariff and taxation of the same product.

This is muddled logic. There's no reason for subsidized demand to lead to subsidized production if demand is subsidized to the point where producers can make a profit. Well, no reason other than to make sure jobs get created in your country instead of somewhere else.

Effects (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460845)

Subsidizing demand anywhere does not favour any manufacturer. Subsidizing suppliers in China disadvantages suppliers anywhere else, perhaps to the point of driving them out of business and leaving the Chinese infrastructure in place who can then charge whatever they want.

We subsidize solar production as well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460871)

But theirs seems to work!

Sad (1, Troll)

thejaq (2495514) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460875)

It is very unfortunate that these dumping and subsidy accusations have taken ground on slashdot and in general. So many people swallow these accusations as fact simply because they are reported allowing the entire anti-China hysteria to continue to grow. These tariffs are a only temporary injustice compared to the totally corrupt "dumping" ruling that will come. Where is the proof of any of this? The firms singled out have all their financials available and they all have positive gross margins. Why is a Chinese subsidy anti-competitive while American subsidies are not? How can people so easily swallow this nonsense?

There are a lot of valid complaints against the Chinese solar industry, but these are not it. This is crony capitalism by politically well-connected minority of mostly anonymous US/German firms. That is all. Chinese companies make cheap solar panels totally above the board, "dumping" is due to small Chinese firms going BANKRUPT by new and successful PV firms. There are Chinese causalities to this revolution too! a.k.a. Destructive capitalism. You can also buy "dumped" Evergreen Solar (a bankrupt US solar firm) at below industry ASP. Where's the outrage? The big Chinese players (the ones specifically, by name targeted with these tarrifs) are taking over and putting American and German firms out of business via well executed competitive capitalism. They spent the last 5 years building modern high-quality poly silicon plants that produce poly at 20$kg, way cheaper existing than US and NORWAY. Their poly plants sit right next to their wafer, cell, and module facilities, which all use the fanciest, newest US and German manufacturing equipment. The Chinese firms are aggressively pursuing vertical strategies, executing efficiency improvements throughout the entire product chain, and reducing cost via a hugely competitive free market, recycling the nasties instead of dumping them because its cheaper! The strongest firms are manufacturing and selling modules at under a dollar at 7-14% gross margin. AKA *not* dumping. They are all operating on a loss due to fast declining module ASPS, awesome competition, and reletively high OPEX due to expansion, R&D, and debt. We know this because these companies are listed on American exchanges where they comply with GAAP accounting standards, file this info in their quarterly 10K and have American firms auditing them. The basis of these dumping and subsidy accusations are so obviously fradulent, it is really insulting. China is executing a brilliant strategy, mostly above the board, and now the the US politburo is attempting to penalize them. It won't work, we'll just fall further behind.

China Development Bank has given out loan guarantees much like the US Department of Energy (e.g Solandra, First Solar). Ironically, the Chinese firms have barely even tapped this credit. They have mostly been successful raising money on the securities and bond markets in the US and Hong Kong, aka private investors. Chinese provinces have given out awesome tax and energy rebates to manufacturers just like US States (e.g.MA,CA,CO). Where's the beef? The whole anti-Chinese bandwagon is utterly disgusting. It so clearly displays the hypocrisy behind the agendas that drive capitalism and globalization that I can barely stomach it.... It's all a complete farce.

On the other hand, PV is clearly part of a massive strategy for Chinese energy independence. In fact, they have probably passed the tipping point. They are mostly through the development of a several hundred GW/yr PV industry. They will continue grow their production on the backs of western countries mandates and private financing from western markets. Brilliant! the west is paying China to develop what will be the most cost effective, ubiquitous and potentially largest industry on earth. We Americans see this well-executed strategy and our response is to protect a minor portion of our own solar industry (at the expense of our solar equipment exporters, which fyi give us the NET solar exports, and downstream solar firms). This is about the most incompetent response I could possibly imagine. We are losers.

Dey Took Our Jerbs (Profits) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39460885)

The green "carpet baggers" are still trying to keep their heads above water. The "gold rush" of American solar panel manufacturers has been severely damaged by financial losses. The losses have stemmed from less market demand than expected, increased competition from the myriad of panel manufacturers at home and abroad, declining panel prices due to normal market pressures...

The likes of Solyndra and other less shady(ooh a pun) companies have been suffering huge losses and going out of business, taking the American jerbs with them. Then there is the issue of Chinese competition and allegations of dumping causing even greater losses. For politicians, this is an unacceptable position, especially in an election year. They are compelled to act, even if it is incorrectly.

The tariffs are intended to lessen the Chinese impact on the domestic market with the misguided attempt to prop up the sales and profits of domestic companies manufacturing solar panels. This is an age old political "solution" to an economic problem. Another attempt by government to control the market.

What will happen, is the same as has happened in the past. American companies that should go by the wayside will, for a short period, stay alive on the artificially inflated profits. But, as the same market pressures impact the domestic market, American companies will reduce costs by moving the manufacturing abroad. First Mexico and other South or Central American countries and eventually right back to China.

The whole tedious process is just a speed bump on the road to the inevitable. The final destination, a very few massively profitable companies(think GE) who get their products manufactured by the cheapest labor force available(presently China perhaps India in the future.) The American people will still be fleeced and their jobs will still be going overseas.

Been there. Done that. Three times in my lifetime.

Turnabout is fair play (1)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39460949)

Turnabout is fair play. I can just their their faces twisted in paroxyms of rage, as the white round-eyes DARED to play as dirty as they have for decades.

Those white RACISTS!!!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?