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A group of U.S. solar panel manufacturers file formal trade complaints with the U.S. Commerce...

A group of U.S. solar panel manufacturers file formal trade complaints with the U.S. Commerce Department against China, alleging massive illegal subsidies. In a statement, the newly-formed Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing says “Artificially low-priced solar products from China are crippling the domestic industry.”
Comments (21)
  • The Geoffster
    , contributor
    Comments (4009) | Send Message
     
    Pot calling the kettle black? Solyndra anyone?
    19 Oct 2011, 08:58 PM Reply Like
  • Native Texan
    , contributor
    Comments (-724) | Send Message
     
    How many of the domestic manufacturing outfits are staffed by by union members?
    19 Oct 2011, 09:08 PM Reply Like
  • Hendershott
    , contributor
    Comments (1497) | Send Message
     
    Why would union staffing make a difference? I you look at the websites of the manufacturers none of them appear to be union shops. The trade complaint is filed by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing which consists of seven companies, led by Solarworld, a German company that has 1100 US employees. The trade action is filed by the management of these companies, not the workers, union or not, and not by the US Government. The action alleges unfair subsidies to the Chinese manufacturers, to the tune of $30 billion last year.
    19 Oct 2011, 09:36 PM Reply Like
  • Native Texan
    , contributor
    Comments (-724) | Send Message
     
    My question was not an effort to dispute the validity of their filing. However, labor costs often inhibit a companies’ ability to compete in a global market place and remain profitable. Unions drive up labor costs and history shows us that as these wages go up, American business are left with no choice but to either go out of business, stagnate with no growth or move their manufacturing to another region or country.
    To this end, I'd like to know if these Solar Panel companies could remain competitive, even in lieu of China's subsidies, by simply getting rid of the unions and moving their manufacturing to another region where the cost of living is less, resulting in lower wages for people who'd JUMP at the opportunity to work at any one of these companies, etc.
    20 Oct 2011, 09:16 AM Reply Like
  • Cwaggy1
    , contributor
    Comments (17) | Send Message
     
    Tex, take a reality check: An American worker needs $15 an hour to just get by. And that is not a 'union rate'. In China, where everyone is in 'the union' they make $15 day. It's a race to the bottom in the solar industry now and the 1st one to gain parity with conventional sources will be the winner. And it won't be an American company, union or open shop, period.

     

    Hello..Earth to Texas: Manufacturing is OVER in this country. We simply can't compete paying First World wages.

     

    If your investor group speculates that you can sell $4 panels but some other Asian SOB makes them for a buck, guess what? Bad bet, you lose. Its called the market and it seems China has that figured out and we in turn sue them. Same damned thing happened in the computer hardware industry. These things are just mere footnotes of economic history and so will be this industry funded complaint.
    20 Oct 2011, 03:39 PM Reply Like
  • Native Texan
    , contributor
    Comments (-724) | Send Message
     
    Cwaggy,

     

    Which part of my response/clarification to Hendershott are you replying to, exactly?
    20 Oct 2011, 04:20 PM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    Manufacturing is not over in this country it just does not employ as many people. Hello automation. I believe we were about 40% of the workforce in mfg at the end of WWII which was un-naturally high and we are at around 11% now.
    20 Oct 2011, 05:08 PM Reply Like
  • Native Texan
    , contributor
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    Tomas, I don't know what the post WWII percentage was 40% sounds low. Regardless, I think the of your point remains, that post WWII we were the only country left standing and as such, we became the manufacturing powerhouse of the world, resulting in several decades of rich pension plans, health insurance and other forms of compensation, etc. Likewise, the revenue coming into the U.S. Treasury allowed for the fiscal viability of well intentioned welfare programs. Unfortunately, Bottom line is that times have changed and we can no longer sustain the unsustainable. Blaming the corporations for these changes is simply unfair. Even today, "$15/hr" is considered a lavish wage by many. It won't afford them a fancy cell phone or calling plan, no movie channels with their cable (if they can even afford cable) no eating out, no fancy jewelry, no car, etc. Heaven forbid, they may even have to get a 2nd job. Not only does our country need to live within its means, so does its citizenry.
    20 Oct 2011, 05:22 PM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    NT

     

    I agree. I went back and looked at that stat which I was recalling from an article in the September 22 Fortune magazine. The numbers are that mfg was 39% of total US workers at the end of WWII and that was the peak and again is really a head fake as your comment articulates the main reason. This has declined steadily and now sits at 9%.

     

    Looking at absolute numbers the peak was in 1979 and is now at 11.8 million which is roughly half of what is was in 1979. At the same time our country is much richer than in 1979 and we manufacture enormously more than in 1979.

     

    Similar story in agriculture where we produce much more than at any point in history but now workers are under 2% of the population down from the majority of the population engaged in ag back in the 19th century.

     

    Get rid of tractors, the steam engine and automation and we would have jobs coming out of our ears :-)
    20 Oct 2011, 06:58 PM Reply Like
  • Hendershott
    , contributor
    Comments (1497) | Send Message
     
    Well, FSLR manufactures in Malaysia, which isn't as cheap as China but China demanded their technology to allow them the manufacture there. FSLR is still competitive. ESLR tried to manufacture in China but still went bust. Solarworld says they can compete with anyone. Anyone that doesn't get free land, subsidized loans, outright grants and government directed business. Reality is always a lot more complicated than theory.
    20 Oct 2011, 10:23 PM Reply Like
  • TruffelPig
    , contributor
    Comments (4058) | Send Message
     
    No, they are correct. Socialist/communist China props up the companies at will (it is planed economy, not capitalism) by putting money in them. The do that to dominate the world in what they identify as future markets and stomp out the competition. They do not honor intellectual property. This all has to stop. Not sure how to stop it though. Maybe just not buying all their plastic crap for some time.

     

    Soon the USA will be renamed in United States of China or when it comes to the stock market United States of Europe. Someone needs to get some balls I would say.
    19 Oct 2011, 09:11 PM Reply Like
  • Losing Paper While Gaining ...
    , contributor
    Comments (497) | Send Message
     
    So does the US(S)A.

     

    This is hardly new, though don't take that as me suggesting it should continue.
    19 Oct 2011, 09:13 PM Reply Like
  • Native Texan
    , contributor
    Comments (-724) | Send Message
     
    Donald Trump says that he has the balls to take the Chinese on; he's been the most vocal on the subject of China and their exploits. No oneself comes to mind.

     

    I own a company which is a independent distributor of board level electronic components like semiconductors, discretes, passives, etc. I've been dealing with the Chinese on a daily to weekly basis since 2000. As most people are well aware, they don't care what color the cat is, so long as it gets the mouse. i.e. they will lie, cheat, steal. etc. to get your money and they don’t care how they get it; they have zero remorse about it too. I transact with them both in buying and selling. No one in my industry will, under any circumstances, buy from China except via an escrow agreement, which allows us ample time to have the parts tested (in order to authenticate them) prior to shipment. Even then, 30% of the product is found to be remarked, refurbished and/or counterfeit. I can go on and on.

     

    People give China too much credit. Their house is made of straw, as such, it will fall.
    20 Oct 2011, 04:42 PM Reply Like
  • TomasViewPoint
    , contributor
    Comments (4845) | Send Message
     
    So if China wants to sell solar panels for less than cost let's place an order for solar energy for every house in America and let them go broke. We can unhook from OPEC, free up household income and have the Chinese foot the bill.

     

    Thank you very much!
    19 Oct 2011, 11:29 PM Reply Like
  • moreofthesame
    , contributor
    Comments (743) | Send Message
     
    Exactly, do you really think that any western country wouldn't do exactly the same thing if they had the money to do so? There are always those who try to believe in the ethical value of the US versus all the criminal rest of the world but the truth is somewhat different. Every situation has to be played wisely and we are all in the same boat. Hysterical fear of being overtaken by the chinese is plain silly, the more the market levels out worldwide the less the chinese government will be able to sell for less than cost.

     

    Chinese workers are working very hard to put food on their tables, the desperation drives the country to financial success, built in austerity like we used to have during WW1 and 2. Those are the times when nations are driven to success.
    The chinese government has to feed ts citizens otherwise there would be starvation by the millions.
    Its an act of desperation to reduce prices artificially to such a degree that nobody can compete and its certainly not something they can keep up for long. Lets buy their panels and eventually we will have some free energy for keeping the technological edge that we are depending on. New ideas is what moves the world not money, money simply follows in its footsteps, look at Apple. As long as we are able to reinvent ourselves we will survive and that pertains to every nation on this planet.
    20 Oct 2011, 02:32 AM Reply Like
  • moreofthesame
    , contributor
    Comments (743) | Send Message
     
    BTW, what would you call when the US injects trillions of dollars into the economy to keep it out of a recession or depression? Or what would you call the wars in the middle east securing major oil reserves? If the chinese were fighting those wars we would all be outraged against them dominating the planet by controlling major oilsupplies.
    We have to get a little smarter than just blaming the chinese.
    20 Oct 2011, 02:44 AM Reply Like
  • Cwaggy1
    , contributor
    Comments (17) | Send Message
     
    You have to realize that Chinese have traditionally used less carbon fuels historically, compared to Americans. We NEED those fossil fuels, they didn't. Now their needs are expanding but they can control demand by matching alt technology and non-renewables to specific needs.

     

    Let me ask you, if we're so smart, why hasn't every school and municipal bldg built in this country in the last 20 years been passive-solar, super high-performance? Hindsight you say? No, its stupidity. All those things were predictably cost effective and we'd still be reaping benefits. Perhaps some 'central planning' called 'efficiency standards' would be beneficial to the country as a whole but we are too politicized and get freaked out about light-bulbs.

     

    We have met the enemy....
    20 Oct 2011, 03:46 PM Reply Like
  • Native Texan
    , contributor
    Comments (-724) | Send Message
     
    Funny, I think people like you who refuse to look in the mirror and accept what you find to be the problem.
    20 Oct 2011, 04:45 PM Reply Like
  • moreofthesame
    , contributor
    Comments (743) | Send Message
     
    I am not sure if I understand you correctly. "Chinese have traditionally used less carbon fuels??" China has a very limited amount of resources and the reason why it hasn't used so much in the past is because they were starving and before that there was no need for it as they were living in a pre industrialized nation.

     

    They seem to do a better job in preparing for the future by utilising more renewable energy, their politics are set in a different way than ours. We are stuck in greed, greed which can be good and necessary to drive a capitalist system can also be very hard to overcome and therefore very destructive. If a fraction of the money that has been spent in warfare during the last decade would have been used to put solar panels on every industrial building and on all the large parking lots/structures etc. and if like you mention all new buildings would be built with passive energy in mind like they are doing in Dubai and China then we would have something solid to show today. The solar installations from earlier of the decade would be producing free energy by now and unemployment would have been way less due to such installations and construction projects.
    All of that is not the fault of china, that is the fault of shortsighted politics and pure greed. Some people do not want to see free energy on a large scale but I think things are changing. They better.
    20 Oct 2011, 04:59 PM Reply Like
  • moreofthesame
    , contributor
    Comments (743) | Send Message
     
    I just have to add one more thing here, as you mention the light bulb. I can not believe that people are still even listening to the Romneys and those "future" presidents. Every time when those debates have taken place every four years its the same pathetic show, the debate locks down on name calling "Romneycare" and accusing somebody of having employed a company which employed some illegals etc. These are all things that do not matter at all and yet they grip the nation they stir cheap sentiments of confrontationalism and everybody forgets or may have never even known about the true issues. Its just like those silly wrestling matches, people should simply not watch that ridiculous display of distraction from the real problems. I wonder what the networks would think if nobody would watch? It would certainly send a message.
    China is trying to survive while we are trying to be entertained (ancient Rome)
    I have travelled to china many times and in cixi I saw hundreds of migrant workers camped out in the public parks at nighttime, it was a very civilised event as it seemed to be what they normally do. Those are extremely poor people who are coming from the country side tho the cities trying to earn some money to send to their families. Those cheap workers are the only advantage that China possesses, natural resources or technology etc at least at this point is not in their favor. So please, first blame ourselves because we still have some nice cards to play with here, no reason to lose this game but growing up a bit would help.
    20 Oct 2011, 05:10 PM Reply Like
  • mben258
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    blaming the Chinese or Europeans isn't going to get us out of the mess our country is in.
    20 Oct 2011, 02:50 PM Reply Like
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