Friday October 12, 2012

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration upheld steep tariffs on Chinese solar panels Wednesday, finding that improper trade practices have undermined an Amer ican solar industry that the largest U.S. manufacturer says is in the midst of collapse.

In one of the largest trade cases the U.S. has pursued against the Asian superpower, the Commerce Department said China’s government is subsidizing companies that are flooding the U.S. market with low-cost products -- a tactic known as "dumping."

To coun teract those price cuts, the U.S. government has imposed tariffs ranging from 18 percent to nearly 250 percent.

For some Chinese companies, those tariffs are lower than preliminary tariffs im posed in May.

Still another set of duties dealing with improper subsidies was increased dramatically. While the initial ruling levied anti-subsidy fees ranging from 2.9 percent to 4.7 percent, the final ruling issued Wednesday sets those fees at 14.8 percent to 16 percent.

The tariffs could aggravate already strained trade relations be tween the U.S. and China. Solar companies in both countries are suffering from a lack of global demand for their products, as President Barack O bam a looks to renewable energy to create jobs and reduce American dependence on oil.