The International Trade Commission decided that imported solar panels from China and other countries were harming U.S. manufacturers which will provide President Trump with the opportunity to impose tariffs in order to protect American solar panel producers from this “unfair” foreign competition. This results in fewer sales of solar PV systems and also an impact on sales of energy storage units for the home and utility. The International Trade Commission has the job of determining if a domestic industry is the victim of unfair trade practices, not of finding what is best for the national economy as a whole; that is the president’s job.
The Chinese and satellite countries are the majority manufacturers of silicon solar panels today. This is illustrated by the percent of United States Exports showing a severe drop to the point where the United States exports less than 1% of solar panels.
Justin Worland reports in Time that solar panel manufacturers employ about 8,000 Americans while another 240,000 U.S. jobs are related to selling and installing those solar panels.
The companies involved in that end of the business are opposed to any tariffs because more expensive solar panels will likely mean fewer people wanting them installed. In fact, the industry is warning that 88,000 jobs are at risk if action is taken to save the 8,000 jobs manufacturing solar panels in the U.S. That means even more lost jobs scattered throughout the U.S. economy.
President Trump, if he really cares about jobs for American workers, he will allow free trade to continue. Yes, free trade produces both winners and losers, but at least with free trade we get more winners than losers. Protectionism most commonly costs our economy more jobs than it saves. That hardly seems like a winning economic policy.