Published: Fri, September 22, 2017
Economy | By Annette Adams

Solar panel imports 'harm USA producers'

Solar panel imports 'harm USA producers'

In a unanimous vote Friday morning, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) found that the domestic solar panel industry has suffered "serious injury" as a result of "increased quantities" of imports of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and products based on the those cells. They say a flood of imports has forced Suniva into bankruptcy and led SolarWorld to lay off most of its workforce.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the many sections of the US solar industry that opposed the section 201 tariff have done an impressive job of mobilizing opposition - including solar developers, installers and racking, tracking and mounting manufacturers, right-wing think tanks, and politicians.

The complainants are seeking a floor price of $0.78 per watt on solar modules and a tariff of $0.40 per watt on imported modules.

But most of the rest of the solar industry fiercely opposes the levies, which independent analysts warn would drive up consumer prices and cause the number of annual solar installations in the U.S.to plunge.

Following the October 3 hearing, the ITC must submit a final report to President Trump by November 13.

White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said Friday that Trump "will examine the facts and make a determination that reflects the best interests of the United States". Trump's Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) called the rule allowing tariffs on global products a "vital tool for industries needing temporary relief from imports to become more competitive".

"We brought this action because the USA solar manufacturing industry finds itself at the precipice of extinction at the hands of foreign market overcapacity", Mark Paustenbach, a spokesman for Suniva, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a press statement. SolarWorld Americas is a subsidiary of German solar giant SolarWorld, which declared insolvency last month.

Suniva and SolarWorld call those claims overstated. Mexico and Canada, covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement, supplied about 8 percent.

In a statement, Suniva welcomed the commission's ruling. The last time the US imposed tariffs under the law Suniva and SolarWorld are invoking - a 2002 steel case - it held a separate vote for Canada and Mexico, citing NAFTA.

"China and its proxies have shown agility to simply move factories from one country to another creating a whack-a-mole scenario", Suniva said in a statement.

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