President Trump has imposed steep tariffs on both washing machines and solar products, responding to two separate trade cases that sought to protect American industry from a flood of cheap imports, including from China, the United States trade representative said Monday.
Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, said the president had decided to accept the recommendations of his trade advisers, who carried out “an exhaustive process” to determine whether American manufacturers were being harmed by imported washing machines and solar products. The United States International Trade Commission, an independent body of trade experts, had also examined the cases and found that imports were hurting domestic manufacturers.
“The president’s action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses in this regard,” Mr. Lighthizer said.
For the solar industry, the president approved tariffs for the next four years. A tariff of 30 percent will be levied on imported modules and cells in the first year. That will fall to 25 percent in the second year, 20 percent in the third year and 15 percent in the fourth year. In each of the four years, the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells will be exempted from the tariff.
For imported washing machines, the president approved a combined tariff and quota for the next three years. 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 United States had imposed a series of restrictions on cheap solar products from China to protect American manufacturers in recent years. But Chinese firms simply moved production to other countries, and continued with plans to ramp up their production capacity, the United States trade representative said.
The trade representative’s office said it would also engage in discussions with other countries to try to resolve a prior dispute over imports of Chinese solar products and polysilicon, the raw material for solar cells.