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Power China Government The Almighty Buck Politics Technology

Solar Panel Trade War Heats Up 232

Hugh Pickens writes "Reuters reports that Chinese solar companies could soon find themselves bereft of some of their biggest foreign markets as Western manufacturers intensify a solar trade war and seek stiff anti-dumping duties on low-cost Chinese products. German group SolarWorld says it is working on steps to curb alleged price dumping by Chinese rivals in Europe as a group of seven U.S. solar companies urges the U.S. government to slap anti-dumping duties on Chinese-made solar energy products. Western solar companies have been at odds with their Chinese counterparts for years, alleging they receive lavish credit lines to offer modules at cheaper prices. 'American solar operations should be rapidly expanding to keep pace with the skyrocketing demand for these products,' says Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon whose office authored a whitepaper called 'China's Grab for Green Jobs.' (PDF) 'But that is not what has been happening. There seems to be one primary explanation for this; that is, that China is cheating.'"
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Solar Panel Trade War Heats Up

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:12AM (#37815524)

    And China was cheating no doubt with making cheap Reeboks and Nike's and stuff for US multinationals... Oh yeah, sorry, forgot. Those were US owned Multinationals getting all the profit then.

    I guess the difference between dumping and competing is whether you're ripping off the consumer and greedy multinational corporations are soaking up all those tax-free dollars or not.

  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:18AM (#37815544)

    We are all producers and consumers. As producers we want our products to be rare and expensive. As consumers we want our products to be plentiful and cheap. You have to decide what type of world you want to live in. One that has plenty of inexpensive things or a few expensive things. I'll take cheap and plentiful.

    Let's say the Chinese decided that the US was too dependent on foreign oil and as a buddy they wanted to supply us with free solar panels. As much as they could make. Would this be a good thing or bad thing? For consumers it would be great but for producers of solar panels it would be terrible. To have progress as a society you have to let consumers rule.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:33AM (#37815648)

    The US government gave, what $500 million dollars to Solyndra to produce solar panels.
    why is it different when the Chinese government subsidises solar panel companies?

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:36AM (#37815678)

    How does "cheating" occur? Can somebody explain to me what "cheating" means in this context?

    There is no free market, don't be confused by thinking about it. Its simply not relevant.

    The Chinese government hands cash to their panel manufacturers to lower their prices so they can put our manufacturers out of business. Then they have two options, they can go the "home appliance route" and make money bu cutting quality so we have to replace our panels every two years, just like Chinese dish washing machines. We'll buy replacements for our broken panels a couple times because it must just be bad luck that they fall apart in 2 years instead of 20, but eventually give up. The other option is explode prices upward, because the capital cost of setting up a competitor is very high and takes a long time, and our government will not help our manufacturers in fact it will stand in the way whenever possible, and finally if we built a plant to sell cheap panels the Chinese govt would merely repeat the same trick, hand cash to their manufacturers to undercut the prices of our new plant, and put our new plant out of business, at which time they can charge whatever they want again.

    The USA problem is we think we are human beings and Chinese are not human beings they are just the yellow hordes or whatever subhuman description you'd like. We do not allow panels to be sold here if they were made in the US and toxic waste was dumped into USA drinking water, USA rivers, USA farm fields, etc, because we are civilized humans (mostly) and humans should not have to live in a toxic dump. But the Chinese are not humans, so if we buy panels from people who dump toxic waste into the environment, that is OK with us, because they are just animals. Turns out that proper waste disposal is so expensive that its an economic non-starter to buy American instead of cheap Chinese. I'm not saying I agree with any of it, I'm just clarifying that the only reason we allow it is the US is a profoundly racist country.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:38AM (#37815692) Homepage

    It's not entirely about the environmental regulations. In addition to toxic waste spewing all over their country, Chinese workers don't have the kind of labor protections that European and even US workers currently have, like protection from unpaid overtime, workplace safety laws so they don't get killed on the job, minimum wages, collective bargaining rights, child labor laws, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:53AM (#37815796)

    Capitalism sucks when the other guys outcompete you, doesn't it?
    Since many companies in China are state-owned, you cannot call it a subsidy. It's more like moving money from one department to another. Companies do that all the time. And you can accuse the Chinese of many things, but on the US market, they compete simply by price, as the system was intended.

    And anyway, it's not as if Western countries never dump anything in other countries. http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=3303 [oxfamblogs.org]

  • by jbengt ( 874751 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:20AM (#37816048)

    And how is that different from the US?

    US currency value is determined on the open market.
    Chinese currency is not.

  • by whereiswaldo ( 459052 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:45AM (#37816374) Journal

    they compete simply by price

    By simple, do you mean saving money by slave wages, no human rights, and abhorrent environmental policies and passing the savings on to the buyer?

    We should have heavy tariffs on everything from China until they clean up their act.

  • by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:58AM (#37816648)

    In 2011, in multiple states in the US, the Republican Party... abolished unions.


    Unions for government workers had many of their bargaining rights restricted or eliminated. Not private sector Unions.

    Public sector (government employee) Unions are an abomination. Their purpose is not to share in profits, as government makes no profits. It's to grab all the tax money they can and influence lawmakers to pass laws to increase their power.

    The government employee Unions "negotiate" for higher wages & benefits, paid for by taxpayers, not the profits of a private business, with one political Party (who don't themselves feel the pain of a bad deal for the taxpayers), and then the Union takes money from Union members as Union dues and contributes a large portion right back to the election campaigns and PACs of that same Party.

    It's an incestuous and corrupt system that robs taxpayers blind and funnels money into one political Party's coffers, while ensuring lawmakers pass laws favorable to increasing the Union's power and wealth.

    Even FDR said public sector unions were bad. The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don't generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. F.D.R. considered this "unthinkable and intolerable."

    Government collective bargaining means voters do not have the final say on public policy. Instead, their elected representatives must negotiate spending and policy decisions with unions. That is not exactly democratic...a fact that unions once recognized.


  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @11:56AM (#37819016) Homepage

    Urgh. Physics is not Economic's bitch. China are burning oil to make inefficient PV panels that will never generate the energy required to produce them - factor in the mining, refining, shipping, installation and maintenance, and if you discount the energy required to keep the people involved in that process alive, well, enjoy your cold damp cave.

    Now, when you then hide that sad situation by subsiding the panels, who are you helping? Future generations won't thank you when they end up with a planet covered by worn out PV panels that don't generate enough energy to manufacture their replacements.

    Trusting consumers isn't always the solution - given a free hand, they'll swill down snake oil until their eyeballs explode.

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