A rare and exclusive peek into Donald Trump’s Oval Office has renewed fears amidst the US solar industry that the current Section 201 trade case will result in burdensome tariffs, seriously endangering the industry’s growth and thousands of jobs.
I’ve been warning since the Section 201 trade case filed by Suniva and SolarWorld with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that, despite the overwhelming common-sense case against their claims and requests, the case may be ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, given the current President’s protectionist policies. Specifically, Suniva and SolarWorld are asking the ITC to place a tariff on all imported solar cells and to set a price floor for nearly every imported panel — a move which experts predict could cost up to 88,000 US solar industry jobs and hamstring the growth of the industry by up to two-thirds.
The crux of the issue is not so much whether Suniva and SolarWorld have a leg to stand on — the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) accurately described claims made by the plaintiffs as “preposterous” and explained that the companies brought their own bankruptcies upon themselves.
Rather, the major issue at hand is that Suniva and SolarWorld have brought their trade case at just the right time, to an Administration run by a US President with overwhelmingly protectionist interests. This has most recently been seen in President Trump’s desire to implement tariffs on steel imports from China — despite a Beijing proposal to cut steel overcapacity by 150 million tonnes by 2022 in a deal that was backed by Trump’s advisors, but did not meet with the President’s desire to impose tariffs.
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