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The Commerce Department announced the stiff duties after making a preliminary finding that Chinese solar panel manufacturers "dumped" their goods - that is, sold them at below fair-market value.
The widely anticipated ruling, if affirmed by U.S. trade officials this fall, is expected to have significant implications for both the global production of solar cells, now largely in China, and the growth of the solar energy industry in the U.S., which employs about 100,000 people in manufacturing, installation and services.
More than 60 Chinese firms face a 31-percent duty on their exports to the U.S., retroactive to shipments made in February. All other Chinese exporters of solar cells will be hit with a tariff of 250 percent.
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