Suniva backs down from worst of solar tariff demands, but global trade war still likely

  • Published on October 4th, 2017

Suniva and SolarWorld Americas have submitted updated requests to the US International Trade Commission that suggest lowering their originally-requested tax remedies on imported solar equipment, but SolarWorld further petitioned the ITC to impose a limit on solar module imports into the United States.

By Joshua S Hill 

I’ll save you the run-down of the Section 201 trade case that Suniva and SolarWorld Americas brought to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), but you can read all about it here, including the ITC’s decision to rule in favor of the ‘aggrieved’ parties.

Reports last week revealed that both Suniva and SolarWorld Americas had posted filings with the ITC modifying their original requests, which were:

  • a $0.40/watt tariff for crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells
  • a floor price of $0.78/watt on CSPV modules

The modified requests differ between who is making the petition. Suniva has requested the following:

  • a $0.25/watt tariff for CSPV cells (down from $0.40/watt)
  • a $0.32/watt for CSPV modules (this is new)
  • a floor price of $0.74/watt on CSPV modules (down from $0.78/watt)

However, SolarWorld has differed its petition somewhat. Whereas it agrees with Suniva on the tariffs for CSPV cells and modules, SolarWorld Americas is looking for an import quota of at least 0.22 GW (gigawatts) for CSPV cells and 5.7 GW for CSPV modules.

Suniva explains that its tariff requests “are needed to address the serious injury confronting the domestic injury. Returning imports to normal volumes not distorted by foreign market overcapacity through the imposition of tariffs that are sufficiently high to deter evasion or avoidance is critical if the total market supply — and US producers’ prices — are to stabilize.”

Meanwhile, SolarWorld Americas explains that its suggested “four-year relief program” is intended to “address the serious injury inflicted on US solar cell and module manufacturers, and to ensure that the US solar industry as a whole, including downstream consumers, remains viable and a global leader in solar energy.”

Unsurprisingly, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) — which has been leading the fight against Suniva and SolarWorld’s original filing — filed its own pre-hearing briefing with the ITC, despite the fact that neither Suniva and SolarWorld had filed their own pre-hearing briefings in the timely manner necessary. The SEIA nevertheless makes a long and legitimate case to the ITC that — to borrow from one of the filing’s opening headings — “The Problems of the Domestic Industry Would Not Be Remedied by Global Trade Restrictions.”

Specifically:

“As a result, tariffs that impose a cost on the importer would logically push CSPV cell and module prices higher, but the adverse demand effects and limitation on domestic industry capacity will make it impossible for the industry to become profitable. Binding quotas would also fail to help the industry.Imposing a limit on import supply in a market where the domestic industry’s capacity is unable to fulfill the vast majority of demand will, by necessity, cause demand to shift to alternative products.”

In the end, I am concerned that this will all come down, not to the merits of the case and the facts being presented (by either side), but rather the fact that the current US President, Donald Trump, wants to impose tariffs on something, anything.

(Originally appeared at our sister-site, Cleantechnica.)

About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.