Chinese solar panels face duties of 35%

The United States slapped new import duties on solar panels and other related products from China on Tuesday after the Commerce Department ruled they were produced using Chinese government subsidies.

The U.S. arm of German solar manufacturer SolarWorld filed a petition complaining that Chinese manufacturers are sidestepping duties imposed in 2012 by shifting production of the cells used to make their panels to Taiwan and continuing to flood the U.S. market with cheap products.

The new complaint seeks to close that loophole by extending import duties to also cover panels made with parts from Taiwan.

In a preliminary determination, Commerce imposed duties of 35.21 percent on imports of panels and other products made by Wuxi Suntech Power and five other affiliated companies, 18.56 percent on imports of Trina Solar and 26.89 percent on imports from other Chinese producers.

In the United States, the complaint has pitted SolarWorld Industries America, which makes crystalline silicon solar panels at its factory in Hillsboro, Ore., against U.S. solar companies that mainly focus on installation and say imposing import duties will only push up the cost of solar power.

“Today is a strong win for the U.S. solar industry,” said Mukesh Dulani, president of SolarWorld Industries America. “We look forward to the end of illegal Chinese government intervention in the U.S. solar market, and we applaud Commerce for its work that supports fair trade.”

— Reuters

Massad is confirmed as CFTC chairman

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Obama’s choice to head an agency overseeing potentially risky financial market activities.

Timothy Massad, a Treasury official who has promised to act aggressively against misconduct to ensure investors’ confidence, was approved as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The CFTC, which regulates futures and options markets as well as derivatives trading, oversees some of the riskiest corners of the financial world. Derivatives were blamed for fueling the financial crisis.

Also confirmed were two nominees to fill vacancies on the CFTC panel: securities lawyer Sharon Bowen and brokerage firm executive J. Christopher Giancarlo. Bowen will fill a Democratic seat on the five-member commission, Giancarlo a Republican one.

Massad will succeed Gary Gensler, who left in December. Commissioner Mark Wetjen has been acting CFTC chairman.

— Associated Press

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