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US Puts Tariff On Chinese Solar Panels 311

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-just-sink-5%-of-the-ships? dept.
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."
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US Puts Tariff On Chinese Solar Panels

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  • well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pele (151312) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @10:30AM (#39460457) Homepage

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

  • Well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by koan (80826) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @10:46AM (#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]

  • Re:well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Saturday March 24, 2012 @11:08AM (#39460645) Homepage

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

    FTFW

  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @11:10AM (#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.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @11:34AM (#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.

  • Rare Earths Battle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fast turtle (1118037) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @11:50AM (#39460817) Journal

    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?

  • Re:well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tmosley (996283) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @11:56AM (#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... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @12:09PM (#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... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @12:30PM (#39461017) Homepage

    The average suicide rate in Foxconn is lower than the average on all US states.

  • by nido (102070) <nido56.yahoo@com> on Saturday March 24, 2012 @12:32PM (#39461035) Homepage

    In China, the government owns the banking system.
    In the U.S., the banking system owns the government.

    The Chinese government gives basically interest-free loans, through the state's bank, to the industrial sectors of their economy. The U.S. government guaranteed Solyndra's loans, meaning the government was on the hook for the interest payments to Wall Street when Solyndra couldn't make enough off their solar panels to both cover the costs of manufacturing and their interest-heavy loan payments.

    If Solyndra's guarantee had been properly structured, the U.S. Government would now own a fully-functional photovoltaic factory. The government's factory should be cranking out as many watt-hours of "solar tubes" as possible, and installing these on government buildings in sunny locations. They'd get the solar tubes for cost (as the new owners of the plant), decrease energy prices for everyone, and save a ton of money.

    Oh well.

    Ellen Brown [wordpress.com] has a nice take on the difference in China's economic strategy.

  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Saturday March 24, 2012 @12:36PM (#39461049)

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

    When Occupy Wall St. was just starting up, there was this marine [wordpress.com] who was proud of the fact that he was working 60-70 hour weeks and it took him 8 years to get a degree.

    While a lot of people clamped onto his work ethic and said it was an example of what's great with America, a lot of people also said he's an example of just exactly what's wrong with America.

    I can't write as well this early (relatively, for me) in the day, so I'll just quote from the above article:

    I understand your pride in what you’ve accomplished, but I want to ask you something.

    Do you really want the bar set this high? Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs and work 60 to 70 hours a week? Is that your idea of the American Dream?

    Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week? Do you think you can? Because, let me tell you, kid, that’s not going to be as easy when you’re 50 as it was when you were 20.

    And what happens if you get sick? You say you don’t have health insurance, but since you’re a veteran I assume you have some government-provided health care through the VA system. I know my father, a Vietnam-era veteran of the Air Force, still gets most of his medical needs met through the VA, but I don’t know what your situation is. But even if you have access to health care, it doesn’t mean disease or injury might not interfere with your ability to put in those 60- to 70-hour work weeks.

    Do you plan to get married, have kids? Do you think your wife is going to be happy with you working those long hours year after year without a vacation? Is it going to be fair to her? Is it going to be fair to your kids? Is it going to be fair to you?

    I worked at a job - worked, as in past tense - for a month as a manager. My first job as manager, no less. The company was running all of their employees 70-90 hours a week (a lot of that was driving time on the road), sometimes more. Overtime was non-existant. The boss would keep taking more and more jobs while refusing to either slow the pace or hire more people to handle the workload.

    The boss would bitch about the (rare) new hire being unexperienced, yet he wouldn't invest in even minimal training other than "Here's how you do this particular job - now go repeat this process 5,000 times over the next 12 hours." He would bitch about payroll, yet not take either solution to solve the problem (cut down on the work, or hire more people). He would blow up at me and try to get me to act as a vehicle for his anger towards the employees (to which I adamantly refused).

    I tried to act as a buffer by... translating diplomatically. People were "fired" three or four times in my entire month there. "Tell him to get the fuck to the job in the next 15 minutes or he's fucking fired!" would translate to, "Hey, the boss is getting a bit mad, could you try to hurry it up a bit? I know you've been on the road for 12 hours but I'm getting a lot of shit dropped on my head." I felt like a Sergeant getting retarded orders from some idiotic general higher up in the chain of command - all I could really do is try to protect my guys (one of whom was my best friend) and keep the cash flow going.

    I eventually quit. Boss's sweet-talk aside, the above things unsettled me too much. I was working 80 hours a week and literally not getting paid (not even straight time) for half of that. Violation of OSHA and federal law was rampant. I suppose I could have reported them to some government agency who may or may not have taken action, but that would have likely just ended up with the people I liked there (literally everybody but the boss) jobl

  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @01:31PM (#39461313)

    companies think they can dictate things that are absurd and yet, they often get away with it.

    There was an employer here in town a few years ago that basically called a company meeting and told everyone that they had to take a 10% pay cut or else he was laying them off and hiring in new people to work for lower wages. When the employees obviously went completely apeshit, the owner said "Don't blame me, blame the economy".

    So the employees, they all get together in their own time and they work out ways for them to cut costs, give up their vacations and shit, sacrifice some bonuses, raises, and shift differentials, agree to higher production quotas, and manage to come up with a plan that will enable the boss to cut costs without cutting the employee pay so drastically. The owner's response? "No, my decision to cut your pay is final. The economy is weak right now, and I'm going to capitalize on that by cutting wages back. I don't have to do this, but I am going to anyway to increase my bottom line. Don't like it, there's the door. If you think you're going to organize, be aware that I will fire all of you and move this entire operation to Kentucky."

    The employees were obviously furious, but what could they do? A few did quit, but most of them just sucked it up because even a 10% pay cut is better than working for minimum wage in retail or collecting a paltry $300 bucks a week in unemployment that won't even cover a mortgage payment. It turns out it didn't matter anyway, because not long after that, the owner fired everyone and moved to Kentucky just like he threatened, obviously having had plans to do that all along.

    If I were those new employees in Kentucky, I wouldn't get too comfortable. I'm sure Mexico or China is going to start looking more and more attractive to him every single day...

  • by An dochasac (591582) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @04:50PM (#39462447)

    The U.S. applied these "anti dumping" tariffs on Chinese solar panels on the same day Saudi Arabia announced plans for a massive dump of oil to drive down prices. [greenprophet.com] Isn't it obvious that Mideast oil dumps have done far more harm to U.S. alternative energy industry, including solar, than a handful of fledgling Chinese photovoltaic companies ever did?

    With the exception of a few wildcat oil well companies in the late 90s, the U.S. has never complained of mideast oil dumping. And the U.S. actually complains when China stops dumping Rare Earths. Bush era steel tariffs might have saved a handful of remaining domestic steel jobs at the cost of the thousands of jobs lost with the near demise of the domestic auto industry. 1980s and 90s tariffs on Chinese and Japanese chips did nothing but move manufacturing to Philippines and Central America and Solar tariffs will cost thousands of U.S. jobs by denying U.S. consumers and corporations access to inexpensive clean energy the rest of the world will have. Looking at the history of U.S. WTO trade policy, you'd swear that it was being dictated by policies designed to crush our economy and continue our addiction to oil.

  • Re:well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stellian (673475) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @05:10AM (#39464829)

    You should take into consideration that most depressive individuals will not jump of the factory roof; they rather kill themselves at home, and since suicide is a social stigma, some die in an "accident" or "intoxication", with only the authorities and immediate family knowing the real cause. Because of the high publicity of the suicides, you can also expect Foxconn to preemptively fire any employee showing signs of depression - no potential for another "Foxconn suicide". We are likely seeing only the top of the iceberg.
    The median age of Foxconn factory workers is very young, while most of the clinical depression cases hit the elderly. Social isolation and joblessness (or retirement) are important triggers for depression. So you are not comparing Apple to apples when comparing the young active Foxconn employees to the average person in the US. How high is the suicide rate among young Apple or Ford employees in the US ?

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