U.S. Solar Manufacturers Seek Tariffs on Chinese Imports, Threatening Industry Growth

U.S. solar manufacturers seek tariffs on Asian imports, citing unfair Chinese competition, as Biden administration aims to boost domestic solar industry amid climate concerns.

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Shivani Chauhan
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U.S. Solar Manufacturers Seek Tariffs on Chinese Imports, Threatening Industry Growth

U.S. Solar Manufacturers Seek Tariffs on Chinese Imports, Threatening Industry Growth

A group of seven leading U.S. solar manufacturers have filed trade complaints with the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission, requesting that the Biden administration impose tariffs on solar products being exported from Southeast Asia into the United States. The companies allege that Chinese manufacturers have been relocating production to neighboring countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia to avoid existing tariffs, leading to a flood of cheap Chinese green energy technology exports that are pushing down prices of solar panels and threatening efforts to develop a domestic solar supply chain.

The Biden administration has taken steps to revive U.S. solar manufacturing, including providing billions in funding and supporting new factories. However, U.S. solar manufacturers are still struggling to compete with cheap imported panels, which they claim are the result of illegal subsidies in China. The solar industry group in the U.S. opposes new trade restrictions, arguing that low-cost imports have helped the industry grow and create jobs. Policymakers are also concerned about over-reliance on China for a critical energy source.

Why this matters: The EU-China solar panel trade dispute highlights the tensions between supporting domestic manufacturing and ensuring affordable and widespread solar deployment to address climate change. The outcome could have significant implications for the global transition to renewable energy and efforts to combat climate change.

The U.S. solar industry is in a "very precarious" position, and investments made through the Inflation Reduction Act to bolster American solar businesses are being threatened. The Biden administration has been vocal in its complaints about China's excess industrial capacity, and has moved to more than triple some tariffs on steel and aluminum products from China as part of efforts to help cushion American manufacturers from a surge of low-cost imports. Until the industry and its state funders acknowledge the non-competitiveness of Western solar panel manufacturing, the issue will not be easily resolved.

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. solar manufacturers seek tariffs on imports from Southeast Asia
  • Claim Chinese firms relocating to avoid existing tariffs, undercutting prices
  • Biden admin supports U.S. solar manufacturing, but imports still threaten industry
  • EU-China solar dispute highlights tensions between domestic manufacturing and affordability
  • U.S. solar industry in "precarious" position, despite Inflation Reduction Act support