July 21, 2024

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U.S. Adds Tariffs to Shield Struggling Solar Industry

2 min read

Tariffs aimed at protecting America’s solar industry from foreign competition snapped back into place on Thursday, ending a two-year pause that President Biden approved as part of his effort to jump-start solar adoption in the U.S.

The tariffs, which will apply to certain solar products made by Chinese companies in Southeast Asia, kicked in at a moment of growing global concern about a surge of cheap Chinese solar products that are undercutting U.S. and European manufacturers.

The Biden administration has been trying to build up America’s solar industry by offering tax credits, and companies have announced more than 30 new U.S. manufacturing investments in the past year. But U.S. solar companies say they are still struggling to survive as competitors in China and Southeast Asia flood the global market with solar panels that are being sold at prices far below what American firms need to charge to stay in business.

That has forced President Biden to make an uncomfortable choice: Continue welcoming inexpensive imports that are helping the United States transition away from fossil fuels, or block them to protect new U.S. solar factories that are benefiting from taxpayer money.

The tariffs that take effect Thursday encapsulated that dilemma. The levies, which apply to certain solar products coming to the United States from Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, were approved two years ago, after U.S. officials ruled that some Chinese firms were trying to dodge preexisting American tariffs on China by routing solar panels through other countries. The exact tariff rate depends on the company but could be more than 250 percent.

The Chinese firms had set up factories in Southeast Asia, but Commerce Department officials said that some were not doing substantial manufacturing there. Rather, they were using sites in those countries to make minor changes to Chinese-made solar products, and then shipping them to the United States tariff-free, the ruling decided.


Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport

2024-06-06 12:07:41

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