Trump’s First Test On Tariffs – The Potential For Disaster and Lost Jobs

The International Trade Commission (ITC) declared on Friday, that solar panels imported from China are hurting U.S. Manufacturers – not really a surprise to anyone.  But this decision on overseas production may have overall devastating effects on the U.S. solar industry.

With this ruling, Trump now has authority to impose increased tariffs on imports of solar panels from China. Far outweighing a rising cost of doing business in China, these new tariffs would dramatically increase the cost of solar panels in the U.S., making the solar industry less competitive against fossil fuels like natural gas and coal. Tariffs would help to protect American solar panel manufacturers from cheap foreign imports, but it also increases American consumer costs and threatens jobs in installing and servicing solar power.

88,000 Americans rely on the solar industry for jobs installing and repairing solar panels, no matter where they are made. Increasing prices for residential and commercial solar solutions (perhaps as much as double) would result in decreasing demand. Because solar equipment would be much more expensive, some people and companies just couldn’t afford to install new systems.  A drop in demand, would lead to lay-offs in the industry.

So Trump has a choice:

  1. Increase tariffs and potentially lose 88,000 American jobs, crippling an otherwise growing domestic solar industry.
  2. Keep the status quo and allow Chinese, Mexican, and other foreign manufa