WASHINGTON — The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today applauded a bipartisan letter led by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in support of extending the Section 201 solar safeguard tariffs on Chinese imports, including imported bifacial solar products, for four years. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) unanimously recommended that the 201 tariffs should be extended and that “the bifacial exclusion was an impediment to the domestic industry’s positive adjustment to import competition.” Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) also signed the bipartisan letter. Earlier this week, CPA urged the Biden administration to end the bifacial solar panel exclusion loophole after the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an appeal last Friday.
The bifacial exclusion only came into existence after Chinese solar companies, and a Washington special interest group funded by them, misled the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) as part of their strategy to remove the Section 201 solar tariffs on Chinese solar companies. These same opponents of U.S. domestic solar manufacturers also lobbied against the Department of Commerce from investigating alleged circumvention of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on solar imports, and against the Biden administration’s actions aimed at Chinese solar companies’ use of forced labor in Xinjiang.
“The Section 201 solar safeguard tariffs have been a direct catalyst in the growth of America’s domestic solar manufacturing industry,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of CPA. “Additionally, the ITC has made clear that the bifacial exclusion is a giant loophole to the Section 201 solar safeguard tariffs that has resulted in a flood of tariff-free, undersold Chinese imports. This loophole directly harms U.S. solar manufacturers. Building Back Better means that the renewable energy supply chain utilizes American companies and American workers. That is why CPA strongly urges the Biden administration to extend the Section 201 solar safeguard tariffs for four more years and extend the tariffs to imported bifacial solar panels.”
A new poll of registered voters, conducted by Morning Consult for CPA, shows a significant majority (61%) of voters, including 66% of Democrats, will oppose candidates that support the continued importation of solar panels produced by Chinese companies. Additionally, a significant majority (55%) of voters, including 60% of Independents, said that they are less likely to support a candidate who supports addressing climate change by importing Chinese solar panels. Voters signaled overwhelming support for domestic solar manufacturing, with 9 out of 10 respondents and nearly 100% of voters who identify as liberal, saying that it is important for the United States to manufacture renewable energy equipment like solar panels here in America.
Last year, CPA released a white paper that documents the fact that the Section 201 solar tariffs have had no negative impact on the U.S. market for solar energy installations, which grew 43% in 2020. Solar installations are set to be more than 50% greater than they were expected to be prior to the implementation of the 201 tariffs in 2017. Importantly, several U.S. solar module manufacturers have ramped up production substantially in the last three years under the stimulus of the Section 201 safeguard tariffs on solar module imports, leading U.S producers to achieve a 10-year high in market share of 19.8% in 2019.