Companies petition US trade commission to extend tariffs despite industry warnings

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
A SEIA analysis said the trade restrictions had serious harmed the US solar industry, especially nascent state markets. Image: Luke Price

American solar panel manufacturers Auxin Solar and Suniva have filed a petition with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to extend a tariff system for cells and modules, despite warnings that it was damaging the US solar industry. 

The companies argued that the import tariffs, initially implemented in 2018 as a response to cheap imports from China, is necessary because neither of them have been able to complete business plans that would have allowed them to compete with imports.

But a 2019 analysis compiled by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) claimed the tariffs had caused “devastating harm” to the US solar industry, losing more than 60,000 jobs, jeopardising 10.5GW of projects and costing the US more than US$10.5 billion in lost economic activity every day.

In response to a request for comment by PV Tech, a company spokesperson said: “SEIA argued the same in the original safeguard and it was squarely rejected by the ITC’s own economic modelling. What has actually happened because of the safeguard is a renewal of module manufacturing in the US and the creation of hundreds of good paying manufacturing jobs. More time is needed for the same to happen with upstream US solar manufacturing.”

Moreover, the companies said their investment plans were derailed by pre-safeguard stockpiling, economic damage of the pandemic, predatory pricing by China and a loophole in the system that allowed excluded modules to be imported in high volumes and at cut-rate prices.

“This is about national security and realizing the promise of green energy independence. We believe the Commission should recommend extending the safeguard remedy for another four years to strengthen the domestic solar industry,” said Mamun Rashid, co-founder and chief executive officer at Auxin Solar.

“Extending this safeguard is essential for America to reclaim its lead in solar energy manufacturing and development.”

Without an extension, the safeguard will end 6 February 2022. The companies hope the petition will prompt the ITC to reassess and examine whether the safeguard is still necessary. The ITC will report its decision to President Joe Biden by 8 December 2021, with the President having the option to extend the safeguard for an additional four years.

Implemented by the Trump administration, the safeguard was a response to damage to the US manufacturing industry following a surge of cheaper imports from China and Taiwan. The ITC determined in 2017 that CSPV cells and modules flooding the US market were detrimental to its own internal production capabilities.

Based on the ITC’s findings, the President Donald Trump imposed 30% tariffs on imported CSPV modules and a tariff-rate quota on imported solar cells.

“These tariffs translate to losses in jobs and economic investment, and a missed opportunity to grow the US economy,” said the SEIA analysis in 2019, which can be viewed here.

Read Next

July 1, 2022
The US Supreme Court has restricted the federal government’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in a ruling that critics have warned will hit renewables deployment and hobble the Biden administration’s climate agenda.
PV Tech Premium
June 30, 2022
US authorities’ move to require documentation showing the source of quartzite in solar module imports should come as no surprise, experts have said, amid suggestions most companies will be able to overcome the latest hurdle that threatens to delay shipments.
June 16, 2022
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released a whitepaper outlining the reforms it believes are needed to the US interconnection system, in which it lays out a series of proposals for both regional transmission organisations (RTO) and the US-wide Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
June 8, 2022
The US solar market experienced its worst quarter for installations since the start of the pandemic in Q1 2022, weighed down by regulatory and supply chain issues.
June 7, 2022
The decision of US President Joe Biden to waive tariffs on solar imports from Southeast Asia for two years and authorise the US Department of Energy (DOE) to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to accelerate the production of clean energy technologies, including PV modules and module components, has been broadly welcomed by the US solar sector and industry analysts.
June 7, 2022
US solar manufacturer Solaria has settled patent infringement claims against Canadian Solar after winning a US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event