SEIA Urges Biden Administration to Phase Out Section 201 Tariffs
Monday, Nov 01 2021
WASHINGTON D.C. — In a prehearing brief filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) urged the Biden Administration to phase out the Section 201 global safeguard tariffs on imported solar cells and modules.
SEIA submitted the brief in advance of a USITC hearing this week during which the Commission will hear arguments on the effectiveness of the Section 201 tariffs. In the next few weeks, the Commission will make a recommendation to President Biden on whether to extend, modify, or phase out the tariffs.
The tariffs, imposed by President Trump in January 2018, have only produced marginal investments in domestic module assembly facilities that fall well short of the capacity needed to serve U.S. demand and meet President Biden’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals. They also failed to create jobs, instead resulting in significant job losses.
“President Biden rightfully declared that climate change is an existential threat that the U.S. must address, but a tariff extension would be yet another barrier to clean energy deployment and will undermine any hope we have to mitigate this crisis,” said SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “The U.S. has collected $2.6 billion in Section 201 solar tariffs, but not one cent of that helped the domestic manufacturing industry. In fact, America lost 6,000 solar manufacturing jobs over the last four years when the petitioners promised we’d create more than 45,000 jobs.”
Since the Section 201 tariffs were imposed in 2018, the U.S. solar industry has missed out on more than 62,000 jobs, $19 billion in private sector investment and more than 10 gigawatts of solar deployment. Extending the tariffs will compound these economic losses and worsen the supply chain bottlenecks that are already throttling America’s clean energy sector.
The tariffs were imposed at 30% in 2018 and stepped down by 5% annually until the Trump Administration altered the step-down schedule and reset the tariff level at 18% in 2021. Solar companies planned for the tariffs to drop to 15% this year before phasing out altogether. An extension would further disrupt business certainty and America’s ability to quickly deploy zero-carbon energy.
The law requires Section 201 tariffs to be reduced each year they are in effect. If the higher tariff levels over the last four years failed to spur sufficient domestic manufacturing, then extending them at the same rate or lower rate will undoubtedly fail as well.
“We need a robust domestic manufacturing sector in the U.S., and smart policy solutions such as Senator Ossoff’s tax credit for solar manufacturing will help us make the long-term investments needed to step up domestic production,” Ms. Hopper said. “The solar industry is already facing major supply chain constraints. Extending the Section 201 tariffs will only exacerbate these problems, prevent President Biden from reaching his clean energy goals, and worsen the global climate crisis.”
SEIA will be testifying before the USITC on Nov. 3, 2021. The hearing will be livestreamed and is open to the public.
Read SEIA’s brief and learn more about the impact of these tariffs on the U.S. solar market.
The Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) is leading the transformation to a clean energy economy, creating the framework for solar to achieve 30% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies and other strategic partners to fight for policies that create jobs in every community and shape fair market rules that promote competition and the growth of reliable, low-cost solar power. Founded in 1974, SEIA is the national trade association for the solar and solar + storage industries, building a comprehensive vision for the Solar+ Decade through research, education and advocacy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org and follow @SEIA on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Morgan Lyons, SEIA's Senior Communications Manager, [email protected] (202) 556-2872