The Solar Energy Industries Association has submitted formal comments to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) regarding the Trump administration’s consideration of exclusions under the recent Section 201 solar safeguard tariffs. In the letter, the group explains how the new 30% import tariffs are already hurting the U.S. solar industry.
In comments filed on Monday with the USTR, SEIA expressed support for product exclusions from tariff coverage under the Solar Products Safeguard measure for products that are not, and are not expected to be, manufactured in adequate quantities here in the U.S.
“We agree with the administration’s objective of promoting a strong American manufacturing economy. The exclusion process offers the president an opportunity to allow those products that aren’t adequately available from American manufacturers now, or in the foreseeable future, to receive an exclusion and keep America’s solar economy driving forward,” says Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA, in a statement. “By granting these exclusions, the president can ensure that the burgeoning solar energy sector continues to offer Americans well-paying jobs, national security and economic growth.”
Notably, SEIA explains in the comments that its members have already been impacted by the tariffs, even though it is “too early for demand destruction and job losses to have appeared in official data.”
Specifically, the group says 18 companies have informed SEIA that they plan to cut their deployment or workforce this year. One company is even canceling a planned $1.5 billion investment, one company has already cut 250 jobs and incurred $20 million in “restructuring costs,” and another company is no longer moving forward on plans to hire hundreds of workers for several large-scale projects.
“Meanwhile, the domestic manufacturing response to import relief awarded in this case has been underwhelming and does not remotely resemble what the petitioners told the administration to expect,” SEIA continues in the comments. “We know of no new company that plans to manufacture [crystalline silicon photovoltaic] cells in the U.S. Meanwhile, on the international plane, several foreign governments have announced retaliatory measures and commenced legal challenges against the U.S.
“The pending product exclusion requests provide an important opportunity to mitigate unnecessary elements of harm to the solar industry. Several of the exclusion proposals involve products that are not, and for the foreseeable future will not be, adequately available from American manufacturers,” the letter adds. “By acting promptly and favorably on those requests, the administration can – without in any way undermining the policy and remedial intent of the safeguard measure – help keep America’s solar economy driving forward. Doing so will bolster the solar energy sector’s contribution to U.S. jobs, national security and economic growth.”