The Trump administration imposed 30% tariffs Monday, Jan. 22, on imported solar-energy cells and modules -- the latest sign that the president is playing hardball with China, which dominates the sector.
The administration also slapped tariffs on foreign-made washing machines.
"The president's action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses in this regard," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in announcing the move after markets had closed.
The decision imposes a 30% tariff on imported solar cells and modules in the action's first year, with levies slowly falling to 15% four years from now. The U.S. government will exempt the first 2.5 gigawatts of solar cells imported into America in each of the next four years.
The new tariffs follow a lengthy U.S. International Trade Commission investigation into whether Chinese manufacturers have been "dumping" solar products on the American market at unrealistically low prices in an attempt to drive U.S. manufacturers out of business. Lighthizer said the ITC concluded "that U.S. producers had been seriously injured by imports."
Goldman Sachs, in a note issued late Monday, said the impact of the tariffs would be "relatively benign" and added that it expects rooftop solar developers such as SunRun Inc. (RUN - Get Report) and Vivint Solar Inc. (VSLR - Get Report) to rally in the near-term and said it sees First Solar outperforming Chinese peers JinkoSolar Holding Co. (JKS - Get Report) and Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ - Get Report) .
With its move on imported washing machines, the administration decided on a combined tariff and quota for the next three years, the New York Times reported. "In the first year, the first 1.2 million washing machines that are imported will face a tariff of 20 percent, while all subsequent imports will have a tariff of 50 percent," the Times said.
South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. blasted the Trump administration's move on washing machines.
"Everyone will pay more with fewer choices," Samsung said.