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REC workers in USA become Unwitting Victim of the Solar Trade War

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Ill Effects of Global Solar Trade Wars

The globalized nature of our economy has unexpected side effects for workers and companies. Though globalization has brought prosperity and an increased standard of living for a lot of people, it has also raised the risks that entities faced due to black swan events. USA imposed a duty of 30-35% on solar panel imports from China a year ago. The Chinese solar industry has captured the global market with its massive scale and very low costs. This has made most of the non-Chinese companies noncompetitive, leading to hundreds of bankruptcies in Europe and USA. Last year, USA finally decided to impose duties to level the playing field. However this has not worked, as the Chinese panel makers have easily circumvent the duties and won gigawatts in panel order since that time.

The major victims have been USA based solar companies. Small panel sellers have been hurt as they cannot afford to import Chinese made solar panels. Now even the billion dollar polysilicon plants have started to hurt. The Chinese retaliated this year by imposing 50% plus duties on US poly imports. China is deficient in this raw material and imports more than 50% of its requirement. REC based in Washington and Hemlock in Michigan are the 2 major companies exporting hundreds of millions of dollars of this raw material. The 50% duties have pushed them out of the Chinese market. They are facing big duties. Even South Korea and Europe are able to export poly at almost no duties. Hemlock has already fired 400 workers due to this issue and REC might have to fire the workers as well. Globalization is a double edged sword for workers around the world.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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