Washington, DC— The Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) was launched today to fight the misuse of trade remedies with an initial focus on the Section 201 trade petition on imported solar components. Filed by two heavily indebted solar companies, the 201 trade petition asks the Trump Administration to impose a drastic mix of tariffs and a floor price that would double the price of solar equipment and damage the U.S. solar industry.
The Section 201 “Petition for Global Safeguard Relief – Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells and Modules” seeks a tariff of 40 cents per watt on all foreign-made solar cells and a floor price of 78 cents per watt on all foreign-made panels, doubling the price for the basic ingredients of the broader U.S. solar industry. The $23 billion U.S. solar industry employs 260,000 American workers in good-paying jobs across the country. If successful, this petition would slash demand for new projects and make solar less competitive with other sources of power, decimating one of America’s most promising high-tech growth industries.
“Tariffs meant to protect one industry can, and often do, have significant damaging effects on other domestic industries,” said Tori K. Whiting, Research Associate at The Heritage Foundation. “Imposing tariffs under Section 201, as Suniva and SolarWorld request, would be a step backward by adding another layer of federal subsidies which is something the Heritage Foundation opposes in all instances.”
The International Trade Commission (ITC) is currently conducting a review to determine whether there is evidence of injury, a process due to be completed by Sept. 22. If the ITC decides in favor of the petitioners, it must recommend specific trade barriers to President Trump by Nov. 13. The president then has 60 days to act on the recommendation.
“Protectionism is never the solution for an inability to compete globally,” said Bill Gaskin, former President of the Precision Metalforming Association. “Our country’s trade laws should never be co-opted into causing widespread pain for the broader U.S. economy.”
“Voluntary free trade is always a good thing. And it's a good thing for every consumer; not just a few individuals or companies,” said Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute. “The solar case is an example of the worst kind of trade protectionism. We're delighted to stand for freedom and free markets.”
ETAC will actively engage with the Trump administration, Congress, the media and public to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining access to globally priced products to support American energy industry competitiveness, sustain tens of thousands of good-paying American manufacturing jobs and preserve the principles of free trade in a global marketplace.