UNITED STATES – The United States has approved controversial tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels. This move is in line with President Trump’s ‘America First’ trade policy, which is aiming to protect local manufacturers from foreign competition.
Solar panel makers in China and washing machine makers in South Korea will be most heavily affected. Both these countries have criticised the tariffs, which President Trump has talked about since he came into office. These actions are seen as the president’s most consequential trade moves since his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal as well as renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The tariffs set on solar panels were lower than what domestic US producers expected, while duties on washing machines and parts were steeper than expected.
South Korea threatened to complain to the World Trade Organisation, saying the tariffs were “excessive” and “regrettable”. Manufacturers which include Samsung and LG, compete with US firms such as Whirlpool in the washing machine market. China, who are the world’s biggest solar panel manufacturer, claimed the move would further damage the global trade environment
However, environmentalists said making solar panels more expensive risked holding back the development of renewable energy in the country. Trump approved the tariffs after the US International Trade Commission found local manufacturers were being hurt by cheaper imports.