Wednesday the Department of Commerce upheld tariffs on Chinese solar imports, but failed to expand the scope of its final determination to address circumvention of those tariffs by Chinese manufacturers. In October 2011 a group of solar manufacturers (led by SolarWorld USA) filed a petition against Chinese producers, alleging that government support of the solar industry in China was allowing Chinese solar products to be sold at unfair prices in the U.S. market. Solarworld USA has its U.S. headquarters in Hillsboro and employs more than 900 people in that facility.

The Department of Commerce's preliminary determination earlier this year agreed with the petition and imposed tariffs on the import of certain solar products from China.  That decision, however, allowed companies to avoid the tariffs by simply outsourcing one step of the manufacturing process. Under that ruling, Chinese companies can continue to dump solar products into the U.S. market at unfair prices, creating an unlevel playing field for American manufacturers. The Department of Commerce's final determination did not alter the scope of the ruling, and therefore did not close this problematic loophole.

"Although I am pleased that the Department of Commerce upheld the tariffs on certain Chinese solar imports, I am concerned that this final determination does not go far enough to protect American workers from harmful trade practices," Congresswoman Bonamici said. "The American manufacturing sector is important here at home and now hundreds of Oregon workers are uncertain of their future. Prior to this final determination, my colleagues and I requested that the Department of Commerce consider the harm that would be done to these workers if the scope of the determination was not expanded. Today's decision does not bring the stability that American workers and companies need and deserve."

Congresswoman Bonamici will continue to fight for the American solar industry. Last week Bonamici led 18 Members of Congress in a letter to the International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce, urging them to stop the flood of subsidized Chinese solar panels into the US market.

Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after the U.S. Commerce Department announced today's decision on tariffs for Chinese solar exports:

"We know that on a level playing field, Oregon workers and businesses can compete with any company in the world. However, if China continues to cheat and unfairly subsidize their solar manufacturers, the United States must take action to protect American jobs. Today, the Administration took action to enforce fair trade rules. However, I fear that the action does not go far enough in addressing the loophole allowing Chinese companies to duck the tariff by moving a small part of the operation overseas. We need to close that loophole and ensure that American workers and businesses are playing on a level field."

Northwest Lending Group