China says U.S. tariff extension on solar products hurts new energy trade

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Wind turbines and solar panels are seen at a wind and solar power plant in Zhangjiakou

SHANGHAI – A U.S. extension of tariffs on solar products distorts international trade and hinders the development of clean, low-emission energy, China’s commerce ministry said on Saturday.

President Joe Biden on Friday extended tariffs on imported solar energy equipment for four years, though he eased the terms to exclude bifacial panels that generate power on both sides, which are dominant among big U.S. projects.

Donald Trump imposed the tariffs on solar imports in 2018, using authority under section 201 of a 1974 trade law. The levies started at 30% and declined to 15%.

“The U.S. government insisted on extending the section 201 measures despite strong opposition from related parties at home and abroad, and they not only do not help the healthy development of the domestic U.S. industry, but also distort the normal order of international trade in photovoltaics as a new energy product,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

China expressed hope that the United States would take “concrete action” to facilitate free trade in new energy products and “contribute to the global development of a low greenhouse gas emission economy.”

Driven by growing protectionism abroad as well as rising domestic demand, China’s solar manufacturers have focused increasingly on the home market.

China’s solar capacity rose by a record 54.9 gigawatts (GW) last year to 306.6 GW. It aims to total wind and solar power capacity to a combined 1,200 GW by the end of the decade from 635 GW at the end of last year.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by William Mallard)

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