Regulation, Solar - September 8, 2017
Steel group sides with Suniva on trade case
The Steel Manufacturers Association has become the first industry trade group to lend its support to a petition from two financially distressed solar panel makers calling for federal tariffs on imported solar modules, Axios reported Sept. 7.
The Section 201 trade petition on imported solar components has major implications for the country's solar industry and was brought by two struggling U.S.-based solar manufacturing companies, Suniva and SolarWorld Americas. Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 allows for temporary import relief, such as tariffs, minimum pricing and quotas, in certain situations where increased imports of products that are causing "serious injury" to an American industry.
In a Sept. 5 letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission, which heard testimony in the case in August, the Steel Manufacturers Association said it is "deeply troubled by the recent surge of imports of solar cells and panels into the United States and the devastating impact these imports have had on the U.S. solar manufacturing industry." The group, which represents 30 North American steel producers whose members collectively account for approximately 75% of all steel production in the region, continued:
"These imports have caused numerous bankruptcies and production shut downs, and thousands of American workers have lost their jobs or seen their wages slashed. All this has happened at a time when demand for solar products was high and growing. There is simply no reason why U.S. manufacturers — among the best and most innovative in the world —should not be thriving as well."
The position is in direct opposition to that of the Solar Energy Industries Association and a wide range of companies, associations and organizations fighting against the petition under the recently formed Energy Trade Action Coalition, which believes if the ITC grants the request, it will cost hundreds of thousands of American solar jobs and "bring solar growth in all sectors to a screeching halt."
Should the ITC determine that the influx of fairly traded goods was the main cause of serious injury to the American industry, it would recommend remedies to President Donald Trump, who has the ultimate authority to impose such remedies, the Energy Trade Action Coalition explains on its website. The commission is expected to make its first decision on the case — whether or not the volume of imported solar modules has been the main cause of injury to the domestic solar manufacturers — by Sept. 22.