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Commission Upholds Trade Tariffs on China, Triggering Setback for U.S. Solar Industry

Insights + Opinion

As expected, the U.S. International Trade Commission today upheld the imposition of tariffs against Chinese and Taiwanese solar products, as part of a 2014 investigation into allegations of unfair trade practices. While it was the news we expected, it was not the news we wanted.

Without question, this decision represents a clear setback for the U.S. solar industry. Yet despite punishing tariffs, and the market uncertainty they have created, our industry has been able to persevere so far in the face of needless and counter-productive litigation. U.S. solar manufacturing and services jobs continue to grow, while solar prices continue to fall.

Consider how much better, and stronger, the U.S. solar industry would be doing without hundreds of millions of dollars in added tariff costs.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

But consider how much better, and stronger, the U.S. solar industry would be doing without hundreds of millions of dollars in added tariff costs. In all likelihood, the industry would be well ahead of its goal of installing 10 gigawatts (GW) of new solar annually. We’d also see a robust and growing U.S. polysilicon industry, shipping billions of dollars in exports and benefitting our economy. Instead, we’re now faced with U.S. polysilicon plant closures and layoffs. And through it all, SolarWorld has gained little to nothing from its short-sighted litigation.

There is, however, a clear path forward—one which will help SolarWorld, restore U.S. polysilicon and boost the U.S. solar industry overall. That path involves a negotiated solution, recognizing broader industry interests. We’re not talking about an unrealistic minimum price regime or unreasonable quotas—and certainly not a two-tiered minimum pricing scheme. Rather, it’s a solution which addresses U.S.-China competitiveness concerns, directly benefits U.S. solar cell and module manufacturers and allows the broader U.S. solar industry to reach its full potential.

The Solar Energy Industries Association settlement proposal, or U.S. solar manufacturing fund concept, represents that smart path forward. It’s time to turn the focus from litigation to negotiation. We remain convinced that a fair settlement is still possible.

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