WASHINGTON — The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today urged the Biden administration to end the bifacial solar panel exclusion loophole after the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an appeal last Friday. DOJ appealed the U.S. Court of International Trade’s (CIT) prior ruling that removed Section 201 tariffs on imports of bifacial solar panels. In October 2020, CPA praised a proclamation that closed a loophole for tariffs on imported solar panels and sought to slow the step-down in the tariff rate to 18 percent for 2021. The bifacial exclusion is a giant loophole that Chinese solar companies currently use to exploit the current Section 201 solar panel tariffs that had allowed two-sided (bifacial) solar modules to enter the United States tariff-free.
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.
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.
“After USTR realized they had been misled, they rightly acted to remedy the damage being done to American solar manufacturers by withdrawing the bifacial exclusion and adjusting the tariff rate step down,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of CPA. “As the International Trade Commission has recognized, the bifacial exclusion is a giant loophole to the Section 201 solar safeguard tariffs that has resulted in a flood of injurious tariff-free and undersold Chinese imports.”
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.
“The Section 201 solar safeguard tariffs have spurred a nascent renaissance in American solar manufacturing,” continued Stumo. “Solar will be the leading source of renewable energy by 2035. It is imperative that the Biden administration and Congress take action to support American solar manufacturers, which will create hundreds of thousands of high-quality, stable 21st century manufacturing jobs. A stable and clean American solar manufacturing supply chain will be necessary for the U.S. to meet its crucial climate goals. America’s energy independence and national security will require that the U.S. has its own solar manufacturing capability and is not overly reliant on foreign adversaries. 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 continue efforts to close the bifacial exclusion loophole.”
CPA has long called for action to defend America’s burgeoning solar industry against subsidized imports from China, and has urged the elimination of a tariff exemption for bifacial solar panels.