Trump to impose 30 percent tariff on solar cell imports

President Donald Trump has approved tariffs on imported solar cells and certain washing machines, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced Monday.

The protective tariffs on both kinds of imports would initially kick in at a higher rate in the first year, then decrease in subsequent years. For the first year, a 30 percent tariff would be applied to imported solar modules and cells.

Lighthizer's office said that the trade representative made recommendations to the president based on the findings of the independent, bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission.

The agency had been asked to look into whether foreign imports of washing machines and solar cells/modules were causing "serious injury to 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," Lighthizer said in a statement.

Others, however suggested that the move would be bad for the U.S. economy.

Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, said in a post on Twitter that "[t]axing solar panels up to 30% will destroy U.S. jobs, raise Americans' electric bills and hurt our environment. Congress should stand up for American workers and consumers and overturn the administration's harmful decision."

Both South Korea and China decried the Trump administration's new tariffs: Seoul said it would file a complaint about the changes, and Beijing said the U.S. was deteriorating the global trade environment.

Below are the approved safeguard tariffs on solar modules and cells:

  • Year 1: 30%
  • Year 2: 25%
  • Year 3: 20%
  • Year 4: 15%

—Reuters contributed to this report.