Trade: Trump imposes solar, washer tariffs
President Trump signaled this week he is “ready to start implementing his long-promised ‘America First’ trade policy,” slapping steep tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels, said Jacob Schlesinger and Erin Ailworth in The Wall Street Journal. The tariff on solar energy cells and panels starts at 30 percent, and falls to 15 percent over the next four years; imported washing machines and parts will face tariffs of up to 50 percent over three years. The moves are aimed largely at “Chinese makers of solar panels and South Korean producers of washing machines,” which have been accused of dumping products in the U.S. at artificially low prices.
The White House said the tariffs would help save—and even boost—U.S. manufacturing jobs, by encouraging foreign manufacturers to build plants here, said Gregory Korte and David Jackson in USA Today. But a solar industry trade group estimated that as many as 23,000 U.S. solar jobs could be lost as a result of the trade measures, because the higher prices could dampen demand. Employment in the solar industry has grown by a breakneck 20 percent annually in recent years; there were 260,000 U.S. solar workers at the end of 2016—five times the number in coal mining. Analysts also estimated that washing machine prices could go up as much as 20 percent. ■