States, foreign governments press ITC to reject solar petition



Several industry leaders, state government officials and representatives of foreign governments pressed the U.S. International Trade Commission at a hearing Tuesday to reject a petition from two domestic solar manufacturers asking for steep tariffs on imported solar cells and modules.

U.S. solar manufacturer Suniva and SolarWorld Americas have asked the commission to declare that solar cell and module imports from predominantly Asian nations have caused "significant injury" to their domestic business.

“U.S. module manufacturers suffered net losses exceeding a billion dollars over a five-year period,” Matthew J. McConkey, a spokesperson for Suniva, said at Tuesday’s hearing. “As U.S. demand for solar products increased from 2005 to 2016, foreign suppliers, including those from China, Korea, Canada and Malaysia, began capturing an even larger share of the U.S. market.”

If the ITC agrees with the two companies that a "deluge" of solar imports had distorted the U.S. market, it could have huge impact on the renewable energy source that has grown rapidly over the past decade as costs for the panels that turn sunlight into electricity have plunged.

Chinese companies dominate the global production of solar cells and modules, and they have built extensive supply chains and manufacturing operations across Asia. President Donald Trump had often criticized China for its trade practices, and on Monday he issued an executive memorandum calling for U.S. trade officials to "consider all available options" to get China to stop coercing U.S. companies to hand over valuable technology.

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