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Meritless Circumvention Petition Threatens to Hurt U.S. Clean Energy Deployment

Wednesday, Mar 09 2022

SEIA Comms Team

Last month, Auxin Solar filed a self-interested circumvention petition that could undermine America’s progress towards its clean energy goals. In response, over 200 solar companies came together to urge the U.S. Department of Commerce to reject this frivolous petition without delay. 

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, America’s leading solar companies outlined how the petition would harm their businesses and the industry as a whole. If the Department moves forward, the petition will impose steep tariffs on solar cell imports, which would have a devastating impact on U.S. companies and the 231,000 workers they employ. 

The proposed tariffs unfairly target cells and modules from four countries--Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia--which account for the vast majority of U.S. supply. The duties, ranging from 50%-250%, would stall projects and lead to the loss of 45,000 American jobs, including 15,000 domestic solar manufacturing jobs. 

On top of rising prices and persistent supply chain challenges, the solar industry is also struggling to recover from a similar circumvention attempt last year, which caused massive market disruptions. When the anonymous petition was filed in August 2021, foreign suppliers withheld shipments to the United States. The Commerce Department ultimately made the right decision to reject the tariffs, but not before solar projects experienced delays and many jobs were lost. 

In addition to project setbacks, these tariffs would make it nearly impossible to meet President Biden’s climate goals, all because a single company is attempting to exploit trade law for market advantage. Now more than ever, the U.S. should be focused on ways to build a clean energy economy. As President Biden recognized in his State of the Union address, Congress could pass investments to support domestic manufacturing and solar deployment that will help us become less dependent on energy from countries that do not share our values.

Ultimately, the companies argue the Commerce Department should reject the petition outright because it lacks legal and factual merit. It is based on the false claim that production in the four countries is a “minor or insignificant” process. The reality is that significant work is done in those countries. In an astounding contradiction, Auxin Solar even agreed with that in the recent Section 201 investigation, recognizing that cell and module manufacturing requires capital and sophisticated operations.
Manufacturers, developers, installers, and service providers from all corners of the solar supply chain agree: these dangerous tariffs would hurt their workforce and their future. Instead of acting to benefit one company, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and its members call on the Department of Commerce to exercise its discretion and reject the petition before more damage is done.

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