The White House announced Monday that President Trump has imposed tariffs of 30 percent on imported solar panel technology in a major blow for the $28 billion solar industry, which gets about 80 percent of its solar panel products from imports.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, a group that represents manufacturers as well as installers, sellers and others in the field, warned that the new tariffs would increase prices and kill an estimated 23,000 jobs.
“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, the group’s president, said in a statement.
The tariffs will apply to all imported solar photovoltaic cells and modules.
“The president’s action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses in this regard,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement Monday.
The new tariff falls from 30 to 25 percent after a year, and then 20 percent and 15 percent each year after until it is phased out entirely.
The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells are excluded from the additional tariff, according to the U.S. Trade Representative fact sheet.
The Hill notes:
Suniva and SolarWorld USA requested tariffs of 50 percent on imported panels last year, saying their operations were decimated by cheap imports. The International Trade Commission endorsed tariffs of up to 35 percent after it ruled that domestic manufacturers suffered “serious injury” from the imports, a finding required to impose tariffs under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974.
Most of the rest of the solar industry, including installers and companies that make related technology, oppose the tariffs, saying they would threaten tens of thousands of jobs.
The right-wing R Street Institute said Trump’s decision was a disappointing loss for free trade.
“More good-paying jobs will be jeopardized by today’s decision than could possibly be saved by bailing out the bankrupt companies that petitioned for protection,” said Clark Packard, trade policy counsel for the group. “Today’s decision also will jeopardize the environment by making clean energy sources less affordable.”