As the solar industry anxiously awaits an upcoming decision on the controversial Section 201 solar trade case, co-petitioners SolarWorld Americas and Suniva have gained public support from the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA), which was a key player behind the last successful Section 201 case on behalf of the U.S. steel industry.
In a new letter sent to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), SMA backs SolarWorld and Suniva’s claims and urges the ITC to vote on Sept. 22 that global overcapacity has produced a surge of imports into the U.S. that has seriously injured the domestic solar manufacturing industry. The steel association represents 30 North American producers, collectively accounting for about 75% of all steel production in the continent. In all, SMA members employ 60,000-plus workers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The organization, the letter says, “was instrumental in petitioning the U.S. government for Section 201 relief in 2001 to save the U.S. steel industry and knows firsthand the devastating effects that global overcapacity can have on domestic manufacturers.”
The letter further echoes claims made by SolarWorld and Suniva that even though the U.S. solar manufacturing industry secured import duties, primarily against China, in two previous trade cases, that relief was not enough. (Notably, unlike the earlier SolarWorld-led U.S. trade actions against China and Taiwanese solar imports, a successful Section 201 petition would impose new tariffs on a global scale.)
“Although these trade cases provided the industry with some relief, they were no match for the massive support that foreign producers, particularly those in China, receive from their governments,” the letter says.
“Relief from these imports is imperative,” the letter adds. “For the steel industry, the temporary Section 201 relief provided critical stability at a time of crisis. The U.S. solar industry desperately needs similar breathing room. As the backbone of the solar industry in America, domestic cell and module production must not be lost to foreign imports. These core competencies must be allowed to grow and thrive.”
Juergen Stein, president of SolarWorld Americas, comments, “We are grateful that the Steel Manufacturers Association has tapped its experience in fending off the effects of unfair trade to provide us support in our own struggle. The solar panel manufacturing industry, like steel, is an industry worth fighting for in light of its importance to our economic future.”