United States consumers will lose with Trump's tariffs

Sunday, 28 Jan, 2018

And toward that end he imposed a new 30 percent tariff on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and solar modules to benefit two bankrupt companies, and a new 20 percent to 50 percent tariff on washing machines to benefit Whirlpool Corp. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Solar Foundation's 2016 Solar Jobs Census, 9,000 solar companies employed over 260,000 American workers.

But whatever the reason, the consequences probably won't be severe. The analysis has only looked at the direct economic impacts of the tariffs on solar.

Trump has argued the tariff will protect the American solar industry- and protect domestic manufacturers.

If we do see any growth in USA solar manufacturing it will be small or scammy - firms importing solar cells and then fabricating them into modules here.

It's not hard to picture Donald Trump eyeing the solar energy industry through a rifle scope. The European Union's anti-fraud office determined the same thing - that Chinese steel was shipped through Vietnam and given fake certificates of origin to evade EU tariffs.

SunPower solar panels are among the most efficient in the industry at transforming sunlight into electricity.

Trump's washing machine tariff will particularly hurt South Korea and Mexico, the top exporters of washing machines to this country. According to the manufacturer's petition, the market share of United States solar cell makers declined from 21% in 2012 to 11% in 2016, leading to 1,200 USA job losses. "Samsung, in particular, put out a memo to all of the dealers indicating they have a manufacturing plant in SC that will supply all of the domestic needs, so we don't anticipate a long-term price impact or an availability impact".

About of total USA solar generating capacity is in a relatively small number of very big projects owned by power companies.

"If I was an American-made company, I would increase my price", Beck said. Falling solar costs will eventually lower the price of electricity for U.S. companies - even when electricity users don't switch to solar, lower costs can force natural gas, coal and nuclear plants to cut prices to remain competitive.

And while Trump might be dismissive of the effects of a trade war with China, others in the U.S. are less sanguine about the prospect, fearing it will damage its economy and put a brake on the nascent global economic recovery. "We got a letter from manufactures kind of stating that". Tariffs can't turn back the clock on those advances. By discouraging growth of solar, the administration is also bolstering the fossil fuel industry, whose emissions warm the climate, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Korea and Mexico are the two largest exporters of washing machines to the U.S. Trump's tariffs are an economic blunderbuss that will hit America's friends overseas and Trump's "forgotten men and women" at home. The industry was expanding and now many companies are looking to cut back.

"Our material ordering, our permitting, engineering, anywhere, we can tighten our belts a little bit to be able to absorb some of the rising costs to panels", said Daniel Moyer, chief operating officer of CAM Solar.

Next up, meat imports were the second most-valuable agricultural trade between the USA and China in 2017, worth about $1.3 billion.

At this point, the march of technology looks to be more important than the vagaries of government policy. This meant that out of 50 jobs added that year, one was in the solar sector.

History bears this out.

Renewable energy is thriving because of plunging solar and wind costs as well as strong support from the public, governors and Corporate America.

North Carolina has seen more of that investment than nearly every other state - more than $7 billion worth through 2016, according to a 2017 report by RTI International. But certain parts of the solar industry are going to be hurt badly. Unfortunately, the new tax plan that President Trump proposed could obliterate the progress made so far.