Earlier this week, President Trump approved a 30 percent tariff on certain imports, including solar panels.
The decision was positioned as a move to protect American manufacturing from competition by cheaper products from overseas.
However, some industry associations and solar companies are arguing that the tariff will devastate investment in the sector. It will also cost around 23,000 jobs this year, according to The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the national trade association for the solar industry.
“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,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s President and CEO, in a statement.
As a solar company, we are devastated to learn Trump has imposed a 30% tariff on solar panels virtually killing the solar industry. Solar employs more people than coal and oil combined. today's decision will cause the loss of roughly 23,000 American jobs this year.
— Eugene Wilkie (@NOW1SOLAR) January 22, 2018
In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said:
The ITC found that U.S. producers had been seriously injured by imports and made several recommendations to the President. Upon receiving these recommendations, my staff and I conducted an exhaustive process which included opportunities to brief in person and through public comments, public hearings, and meetings with senior representatives. Based on this information, the Trade Policy Committee developed recommendations, which the President has accepted. The President’s action makes clear again that the Trump Administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses in this regard.
Some solar-panel manufacturers have applauded the move — for instance, Suniva and SolarWorld, which filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission last year. A lawyer representing SolarWorld described the two manufacturers as “the last two surviving companies” out of more than 30 U.S.-based solar-panel makers. (Bloomberg notes that Suniva has a Chinese majority owner and that SolarWorld is the U.S. unit of a German company.)
SolarWorld Americas appreciates the hard work of President Trump, the U.S. Trade Representative, and this administration in reaching today’s decision, and the President’s recognition of the importance of solar manufacturing to America’s economic and national security. We are still reviewing these remedies, and are hopeful they will be enough to address the import surge and to rebuild solar manufacturing in the United States.
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