The US government announced today that it will impose considerable new tariffs on Chinese-imported solar panels and washing machines, reports the Financial Times. This will be the first such trade measure directly taken by the President during his premiership, but is not expected to be the last as he continues to enact his ‘America First’ policy.
The proposed tariffs are considerable, reaching up to 30% on imported solar panels, and up to 50% on washing machines. There will, however, be some flexibility in their implementation. The first 2.5GW of solar panels imported into the US, for example, will be tariff free, while the initial 1.2 million washing machines will only be taxed at 20%.
Both figures are significantly smaller than the size of their respective US markets. Estimates place the number of GW installed in the US last year at close to 5 times the tariff-free quota.
This has sparked opposition from several groups, such as the Solar Energy Industries Association, who have predicted a loss of 23,000 US jobs as a direct result of the tariffs. There is also an anticipation of the cancellation of billions of dollars of investment in solar projects.
The protectionist decision taken is constitutional according to US law, but may find opposition at the WTO, as has happened with previous administrations.