On Friday, September 22nd, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) unanimously voted that imported solar equipment has inflicted “serious injury” on domestic manufacturers. The decision is in favor of Suniva and SolarWorld’s petition under Section 201 of the 1974 Trade Act, wherein the petitioners argued that solar equipment imports have impaired domestic manufacturers’ ability to compete.
Following this finding, the ITC will hold a hearing on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 in Washington D.C. to evaluate potential trade remedies. The ITC will make its remedy recommendation to President Trump by November 13, 2017, ultimately leaving the decision on whether to impose a remedy in Trump’s hands. Considering the President’s demands for more tariffs on imported goods, it seems that a tariff on solar equipment imports is probable. President Trump will have 60 days after the ITC’s recommendation to issue his decision.
In their petition, SolarWorld and Suniva request a remedy of tariff levels of 40 cents per watt on imported cells and a floor price of 78 cents per watt on modules, either of which would negatively impact jobs and solar development across the U.S., with devastating impacts in states without renewable energy mandates. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the implementation of such a tariff could eliminate 88,000 jobs in solar installation, sales and construction.
Notably, the ITC vote carved out that U.S. manufacturers have not sustained injury from Singaporean and Canadian solar cells and modules, the finding of which could create the potential for these countries to become free trade zones. Singapore’s integrated solar equipment manufacturer, REC, could benefit greatly from this lack of injury finding.
SEIA President and CEO, Abigail Ross Hopper, assured the industry that the organization remains committed to its opposition-advocacy efforts, saying that “As the remedy phase moves forward, I am determined to reach a conclusion that will protect the solar industry, our workers and the American public from what amounts to a shakedown by these two companies.”
SRECTrade will continue to monitor and provide updates on the remedy hearings, recommendation, and Trump’s final decision.