US: Laid off SolarWorld employees granted federal aid

A total of 186 employees are said to be eligible for education and training grants, after an investigation conducted by the department’s Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance determined that "Chinese imports helped cause the shutdown" last September.

In a statement released, SolarWorld commented, "The decision means that many of the 186 laid-off SolarWorld employees can tap federal assistance with job placement; expenses for job searches, relocation and retraining; income support during full-time retraining; and a tax credit on health-insurance premiums."

SolarWorld said that despite investing tens of millions of U.S. dollars in automating its 35 year old Camarillo module facility, it was forced to consolidate its U.S. operations due to "the illegally subsidized and dumped solar products of China’s government-backed export drive".

"U.S. Department of Energy researchers have concluded that without state sponsorship, Chinese manufacturers would face a five percent cost disadvantage in producing and delivering solar products into the U.S. market," continued the company’s statement.

Trade dispute

On March 21, the Department of Commerce made the preliminary decision to retroactively impose tariffs of between 2.9 to 4.37 percent to Chinese solar products going into the U.S. Specifically, Trina Solar has to pay tariffs worth 4.73 percent on U.S. imports and Suntech, tariffs worth 2.9 percent. All other Chinese manufacturers have to pay a tariff of 3.6 percent.

A final decision is expected over the antidumping dispute this May.