Punitive Solar Tariffs Inconsistent With “America First” Agenda : SEIA

Solar trade case - SEIA

The U.S. solar industry stated its case against punitive tariffs on some imported solar panels and cells in a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump’s top trade adviser earlier today.

In April this year, Suniva and SolarWorld filed a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) requesting punitive tariffs be applied to imported solar cells and a minimum price set for solar panels made with cells produced outside the USA.

In September, the ITC said it had determined the volume of cells being imported into the United States from a number of countries to be a “substantial cause of serious injury” to local manufacturers.

In October, the ITC recommended (PDF) a tariff rate of up to 30% on cells and 35% on solar panels imported from certain countries, including China.

At today’s meeting, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Trade Policy Staff Committee were told application of these tariffs would provide a barrier to the uptake of solar power in the USA and threaten thousands of jobs.

” President Trump now must know that new tariffs would put tens of thousands of American workers out of jobs, including veterans and manufacturers,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). ” It is a fact – tariffs would harm our economy and national security and eliminate, not add, manufacturing facilities. This outcome would be inconsistent with an America First agenda.”

President Trump has until January 26 next year to make a decision in the case. He can accept or reject the recommendations; or come up with his own his own policy – the latter a prospect that some may find as equally as frightening as the ITC’s recommendation.

“The decision is now the president’s alone to make, and his choice could not be more clear: protect American workers or side with foreign interests trying to exploit U.S trade law and decimate one of our nation’s fastest-growing industries. We hope the USTR will convey these facts to the president and help him make a decision that puts America First by rejecting tariffs,” said Ms. Ross Hopper.

Earlier this week, SEIA released its America First Plan for Solar Energy, which recommends steps President Trump can take to nurture the nation’s booming solar industry. The country’s solar sector has added more than 100,000 blue-collar jobs to the economy in just the last five years according to the Association.

“The 260,000-worker strong American solar industry, including its 38,000 employees in U.S. solar manufacturing are generating tens of billions of dollars in investment that benefits communities, counties and states across the nation, while strengthening our energy grid against natural and manmade disasters,” says the SEIA.

SEIA represents 1,000 member companies across the entire solar supply chain.

The growth of solar in the USA in recent years has been stellar, thanks in part to the efforts of President Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama. According to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report published in late September, 45GW of solar power capacity was in place across the USA by the end of 2016. More than 14 GW of solar capacity was installed last year.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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