A United States House of Representatives committee has voted to restore tariffs on solar panel imports from four Southeast Asian nations, reversing the Biden administration’s decision to allow more “unfair” solar imports from China into the U.S.
In a bipartisan move, the Ways and Means Committee said that by allowing solar products through Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, “China is obviously circumventing American tariffs designed to ensure a level playing field for American workers.”
It recalled that even the Department of Commerce had determined that Chinese companies were shipping products through these four countries to avoid tariffs.
A department investigation found that Chinese solar manufacturers were evading antidumping and countervailing duties by assembling solar cells and modules in Southeast Asia before shipping them to the U.S.
“For years, China has been dodging American tariffs on solar products by exporting them to the United States through Southeast Asia, hurting American energy jobs and leaving our supply chain in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” the committee said, dubbing the decision to suspend tariffs on solar imports from these countries for two years as “misguided.”
In January, seven months after President Joe Biden announced a two-year duty exemption on solar modules and cells imported from the four Southeast Asian countries, a bipartisan group of Congressmen had introduced a resolution of disapproval, demanding a rollback of the suspension of solar import tariffs.
The Congressional Review Act Resolution on Solar Tariffs stops the Commerce Department from implementing the Final Rule, giving effect to the proclamation suspending the import tariffs and preventing the issuance of any similar rule.
Last December, the Department of Commerce had, however, clarified the scope of the anti-circumvention investigation, saying solar cells made in any of the four Southeast Asian countries under investigation, even if made with wafers from China, that are then exported to a different country and further assembled into modules or other products, would not be considered exports from these four countries.
Industry groups in the U.S. had criticized the investigation contending that the pipeline projects in the country would be impacted adversely, as domestic manufacturing capacity was not in a position to cater to the increasing demand.
The ban on imports of Chinese-made panels has benefited Indian manufacturers. India’s solar module exports witnessed an unprecedented 321% hike year-over-year, totaling $561.6 million, driven by U.S. demand, accounting for over 95% of the shipments.
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