Trump approves tariffs on imported solar cells, modules

Published on January 24, 2018 by Kevin Randolph

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently announced that President Trump approved a recommendation to approve safeguard tariffs on solar cells and modules imported from China.

The tariff will increase by 30 percent during its first year and decline each year after that for four years to 25, 20 and 15, respectively. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells are excluded from the increased tariff.

The decision is the result of a petition from solar manufacturers Suniva and SolarWorld that launched an investigation under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 to determine if increased imports were a substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic solar industry.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) opposed the tariffs and expressed disappointment in the president’s decision.

“While tariffs in this case will not create adequate cell or module manufacturing to meet U.S. demand, or keep foreign-owned Suniva and SolarWorld afloat, they will create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving, which will ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working, blue-collar Americans their jobs,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO, said.

According to SEIA, the tariffs could lead to the loss of approximately 23,000 U.S. jobs this year and delay or cancel substantial amounts of investments in solar.

“While we believe the decision will be significantly harmful to our industry and the economy, we appreciate that the president and the administration listened to our arguments,” Hopper said. “Our industry will emerge from this. The case for solar energy is just too strong to be held down for long, but the severe near-term impacts of these tariffs are unfortunate and avoidable.”