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Trump Slaps Stiff Taxes on Imported Solar Cells, Washing Machines


FILE - Employees walk past solar panels at a plant in Dixon, California, Aug. 17, 2017.

President Donald Trump imposed stiff tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines Monday, aiming to protect U.S. manufacturers.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office made the recommendation to the president for the tariffs.

It said the independent U.S. International Trade Commission found that such imports were a "substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers."

"The president's actions make clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Monday.

Trump has often promised to get tough with China and other exporters that he says compete unfairly with U.S. manufacturers.

The tariffs start out at 30 percent on solar panels and decline over time. On imported washers, they begin at 20 percent on the first 1.2 million machines and jump to 50 percent before also declining.

Two solar panel manufacturing companies were seeking higher taxes to protect them from competition by low-cost imports in hopes of reviving their troubled firms.

The $28 billion solar energy industry employs 260,000 people in the U.S. But a solar industry trade group says only a fraction of the industry's workers actually manufacture panels. It says the rest install the panels in homes and businesses, whether they are made in the U.S. or elsewhere.

The Solar Energy Industries Association says the new tariffs will cost tens of thousands of U.S. jobs and delay or cancel billions of dollars in clean energy investment.

China and other nations that face these new tariffs may challenge the decision at the World Trade Organization.

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