US Extends Tariffs On Chinese Solar Products

THE UNITED STATES has extended for another four years import tariffs on solar panels and cells, which are primarily made in China but barely in the United States.

The tariffs, imposed by the Trump administration in 2018 as one of its anti-China trade measures, were due to expire on February 6. US President Joe Biden renewed them by proclamation on February 4.

They are over and above anti-dumping and countervailing duties levied on solar cells and panels from China.

The tariff renewal will continue to exempt imported bifacial panels widely used in utility-scale solar projects in the United States, a loophole long criticised by US solar product manufacturers.

The Biden administration has also doubled the allowable duty-free import quota for solar cells to 5 gigawatts, a nod to his renewable energy ambitions and intent to promote domestic production. However, along with the bifacial exemption, this underlines how the president has to dance around competing policy agendas.

Most photovoltaic products imported into the United States come from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, all countries where Chinese companies own production facilities.

The Commerce Ministry criticised the extension, saying it will hold back renewable energy development while not boosting domestic US production.

Last September, the World Trade Organisation rejected China’s complaints about the tariffs.

Three months previously, the United States banned imports from Hoshine Silicon Industry, a producer of raw materials used in solar cells, over allegations of the use of forced labour in Xinjiang, which is where four of the world’s five largest polysilicon factories are located.

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