Unfair trade practices imperil local jobs
We are competitors by nature in Milwaukee, whether it's rooting on our small-market Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers or whether it's protecting our standards of living in a community that's second to none.
Helios, a Milwaukee-based solar panel manufacturing company, is competitive, too, and we deliver innovative world-class products. Lately, though, the American solar industry has been undermined by Chinese trade practices that are putting U.S. manufacturing jobs at risk.
At Helios, we believe American manufacturers certainly can compete with Chinese solar manufacturers. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy found that, once you add in the cost of shipping, Chinese solar panels are actually more expensive to produce than American ones. However, we simply cannot compete with the Chinese government and Chinese manufacturers. It's not a pretty story.
From 2008 to 2010, China's exports of solar cells and panels to the United States jumped an astonishing 350%. How did China achieve this growth? The Chinese government was unfairly subsidizing its own solar companies to the tune of $34 billion, and Chinese manufacturers were dumping their products in the U.S. market.
A U.S. Senate report released in February outlined some of the impacts:
The U.S. trade deficit in environmental goods with China reached an all-time high in 2011. The U.S. went from a trade surplus in solar products in 2010 to a $1.6 billion deficit in 2011.
U.S. imports of solar cells and modules from China went up 135% in 2011.
European Union and Japanese exporters of environmental goods are also losing market share to China in global markets.
The results? A 40% collapse in prices in the past year forced 12 American plants to close or downsize during the past 18 months.