According to headlines today, Trump finally started to work on his campaign promise to crack down on Chinese imports. But he is just targeting imports of solar panels from China! Although this is an extremely important issue for the solar industry, it is such a small part of overall imports from China that I can’t find any official statistics that even tell how much it is worth. It is too small to even keep track of it as a separate category. Here is what the US imports from China and how important each category is.
Solar panels aren’t even big enough to show up. If Trump really wanted to go after China, he would go after their TV, computer, Toy, furniture, or footware industries. Solar panels? This isn’t about getting tough with China. Something else is motivating this.
Actually, Noah Smith has more:
In 2012 and 2014, the U.S. government under President Barack Obama hit the Chinese solar industry with tariffs even higher than the one just announced by Trump… The only difference is that while Obama’s tariffs were focused on China specifically, Trump’s apply to all foreign producers. U.S. solar manufacturers such as First Solar will obviously be helped by the tariffs. Asia, which manufactures most of the panels installed in the U.S., would seem to be the obvious loser:
But in the age of globalization and supply chains, things aren’t so obvious. A number of U.S. solar manufacturers, such as SolarWorld and Suniva, are foreign-owned — the majority shareholder in Suniva is Chinese. Some of the increased profits flowing to companies that make panels in the U.S. will head overseas.
So only 9% of imported solar panels are made in China and Chinese companies own some of the U.S. manufacturers who will profit from the tariff. Some “blow to China”.