Senators, Members Call out SEIA as Agent of China
WASHINGTON — The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today applauded U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA), along with U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), led a bicameral letter to President Biden to express their support for the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) investigation into Chinese companies operating in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia that are illegally circumventing existing antidumping and countervailing (AD/CVD) duty orders on solar cells and modules from China. The letter was also signed by U.S. Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Mike Doyle (D-PA-18), and Terri Sewell (D-AL-7).
The lawmakers’ support for Commerce’s investigation comes after an extended corporate political lobbying campaign against American manufacturers led by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Earlier this month, a scathing report by The American Prospect exposed SEIA as a front for Chinese solar manufacturers. This month, the Department of Commerce identified three Chinese solar manufacturers linked to forced labor that are members of SEIA in the Department’s anticircumvention investigation. The Department of Commerce is requiring the following SEIA members to respond: Jinko Solar in Malaysia, Trina Solar in Thailand, and Vina Solar — owned by SEIA member LONGi — in Vietnam.
As The American Prospect notes, “SEIA’s membership includes U.S. subsidiaries of Chinese producers JinkoSolar, JA Solar, Trina Solar, BYD, and LONGi Solar, which are the dominant solar component manufacturers in the world” and “at no time do they disclose that among its leading members are the same Chinese-owned companies that are implicated not only in the investigation of illegal tariff evasion, but in the use of slave labor to produce solar components and coal-fired energy to power the factories.”
“It is unclear why millions of dollars would be spent on advertising and lobbying to urge political interference in the trade enforcement process,” the lawmakers wrote. “The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which has spearheaded lobbying against this investigation and represents the interests of commercial-scale solar installation and financing interests, includes Chinese manufacturers in its membership: JinkoSolar, JA Solar, Trina Solar, BYD, LONGi Solar, and Canadian Solar. Several of these companies have had their shipments to the United States blocked by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for use of Uyghur slave labor in their production, and they are the exact companies that have been subject to the original duties.”
Four of SEIA’s Chinese solar members were named in an explosive academic report that was released by the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region detailing the widespread use of Uyghur forced labor within the solar industry. The report found that the four largest solar panel suppliers in the world—JinkoSolar, JASolar, TrinaSolar and LONGi—all source from at least one polysilicon manufacturer that is implicated in Uyghur forced labor either through direct participation in forced labor schemes, and/or through their raw material sourcing. All of these Chinese solar manufacturers are members of SEIA, and Jinko Solar also sits on SEIA’s board.
This month, the United Steelworkers announced their support for Commerce’s anticircumvention investigation and highlighted their concern that SEIA is working to spread misinformation to undermine the investigation.
In testimony before the Senate, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo exposed SEIA’s big lie that triple digit tariffs would result from the anti-circumvention petition, calling such predictions “exceedingly unlikely.” Testifying before the Senate yesterday, Secretary Raimondo went on to add that, “I do think it is important to say that the 200 percent is an extreme case and not fitting with the precedent we’ve had.”
The lawmakers’ letter also exposed SEIA for consistently lying about false projections of the impacts of tariffs on the U.S. solar industry.
“[W]e believe that some of the claims on the effects for solar installations as a result of this investigation are disingenuous,” the lawmakers continued. “In the past ten years, solar has shifted to the least costly form of producing electricity, and trade enforcement laws have not changed in the interim. In fact, the cost of solar has continued to decline, despite previous tariffs imposed under Solar 1 and Solar 2 AD/CVD and Section 201 Solar Safeguards. The more recent Section 201 Solar Safeguards from the previous administration have been in place since 2018, and every year since then SEIA has released reports on the growth of solar installations – averaging 40% increases every year.”
“We are hearing reports that the current “freeze” on solar panel imports is not a result of work stoppages, but instead a conscious choice by Chinese manufacturers to temporarily constrain supply on the American market to exert more political pressure on this administration,” the letter outlines.
Read the full letter here.